The Sunny South East, truly lived up to its name this August. Hitting 30 degrees in places, the local community welcomed the heat and long days full of light. Another treat arrived in Waterford in the form of art and creativity with the spectacle of Waterford Walls International Street Art Festival. For the eighth year running from August 12th to 21st, forty Irish and International street artists arrived in the city and county to boost the morale of the community, and this year saw the addition of an astonishing 42 new artworks. While the murals may have come as a welcome surprise to passing tourists, familiar locals each year eagerly await the return of the festivities. Art that inspires and brings communities together is made accessible to all by Waterford Walls, creating encounters with beautiful art in people’s everyday lives.
Waterford Walls began as a grassroots community-focused festival in 2015 after the financial crisis when Waterford was still reeling from the economic crash. Businesses remained closed, unemployment was high and empty shopfronts and derelict building facades dominated the cityscape. With a supportive hand from Waterford Council, the festival team set out to enhance and regenerate forlorn buildings and facades with large scale mural art, and to bring some joy, colour and life back into the city.
Jump forward eight years and Waterford Walls has professionalised and become a major annual event on the international street art scene, with artists from all five continents bringing their talents to bear on our city in 2022. The city collection now stands at over 150 murals, and through the Mentoring Programme, Waterford Walls has been working to train in the next generation of artists. Community impacts remain at the heart of the festival’s work, and this year for the first time a Festival Hub at the company’s HQ at the Forum connected the community and artists with jam walls, music and live entertainment, creating togetherness and emanating good festival vibes.
In the streets of the inner city festival and Ballybeg, art united the community again with neighbours coming out of their houses to chat to each other, and artists welcomed with cakes and cups of tea. The legacy of the festival and the murals surpass the 10 days in August. The artworks and their meanings continue to be a part of the daily lives of the locals and enhance their sense of community price. People vary their route to work specifically to view the new murals. A new wave of young artists and innovators will be inspired to follow in the footsteps of the artists and fulfill their own passions.