Writing On The Wall: A Chat With David Maker, The Muralist Who Designed For Fitzgerald Power

Making space for art in corporate spaces – Spanish street artist David Maker thinks you should never forget where you come from.

Just last week, as a wedding took place in the city of Waterford, the bride and groom requested a photo in front of Spanish artist David Maker’s new mural on the wall of the Fitzgerald Power building. It’s not an unusual request – Maker notices people look at, comment upon and take photographs of his work all the time – but the vista made him think: what does street art mean for those who live around it? “It’s all about a better understanding and appreciation for the place in which they live,” he tells Fitzgerald Power. “The piece that the couple chose to take photographs in front of on their special day is actually my most successful project to date – as I had the time to explore and develop the concept and to concentrate on the details in the mural. Which is fitting, given their day.”

In 2022, the Waterford-based public arts agency Street Art Ink team commissioned Maker to paint a maritime-themed artwork celebrating Waterford’s rich heritage in shipbuilding and as a busy port. The artwork reads like a blueprint of a steamship from long ago in Waterford and has a multitude of lifebuoys each with the name of a Waterford steamship. Waterford in general, and Dungarvan in particular, has long had its own ship-building tradition, with famed apothecary, topographer, and writer Charles Smith writing in 1746 noted that “Dungarvan abounds with a good number of the largest boats in the kingdom.” The main period of shipbuilding in Dungarvan was between the mid-18th century and the mid-19th century; the former shipyard was thought to have been above the bridge where the new civic offices are now situated. The main shipbuilders in the city were the Kidneys, Risbills, Thompsons and O’Mahoneys. In 1848 Michael O’Mahoney built one of the largest shops, “The Jamestown”. Many were employed in
associated trades such as sailmaking, blockmaking, shipwrights, and ship chandlers. One of the best known of the old Dungarvan photographers at the time, Edmund Keohan, wrote in 1924: ‘Dungarvan turned out many vessels which were constructed above where the bridge now spans the river and a century ago ship carpenters were almost always employed in this industry….gradually the trade fell away and the men were employed in repairing vessels. Now the tradesmen are gone and it is but seldom that the graving bank (on the causeway, an area for the repair of boats) is occupied with a vessel needing repairs’.

To commemorate and celebrate this rich maritime heritage, Street Art Ink has committed to basing all its public artwork over the next 5 years on the maritime theme and heritage of Waterford and Ireland. Maker’s stunning piece on the Fitzgerald Power building launches Street Art Ink’s latest national maritime and arts programme-Floating Voices, which consists of four strands; a maritime walking tour in Waterford City; an audio-visual trail with QR codes in multiple locations across Waterford. The third and fourth strands of Floating Voices will be starting in Waterford and travelling across Ireland. The intergenerational programme is where younger and older groups work with our artist team to design and create a maritime-themed mural in their locality. And finally, the fourth strand of Floating Voices is themobile open-air floating museum that acts as an Artist in Residency. This is where artists and reside on a repurposed barge and work with communities living near Irish waterways to create public artworks around themes of Climate Change and maritime heritage. Street Art Ink aims to launch this fourth strand of Floating Voices in late 2023/early 2024.
“We frequently speak about how proud we are to be based in Waterford, and so we’re delighted to be a small part of something so intrinsically local, albeit with national scale,” Managing Partner Stuart Fitzgerald says of the programme. “This isn’t our first time to work with incredibly talented street artists in Waterford City and it certainly won’t be the last. Investing in the local community and supporting creative endeavors is extremely important to all of us at Fitzgerald Power. The piece that David has created is truly spectacular and we look forward to collaborating with Street Art Ink again in the future.”

For Maker, the impact of his work will live on for the people of Waterford for a long time. “The pieces of my art that I’m most proud of are the ones on large buildings and in public spaces,” he says. “I think they have the most impact on the public, while also celebrating the rich history and heritage of the area.” As for his advice for those looking to inspire creativity in the everyday? “Work hard, practice and believe in what you do.”

You can find more of Maker’s work on his Instagram, @david.maker.

From all of us here at Fitzgerald Power, we would like to thank David Maker and his team, Street Art Ink and everyone involved in revitalising our building over the last few weeks. Come check out our Greyfriars building today.

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