Artist Jordan De Jong and publican Niall Brennan at the opening of Loughran’s Wall Art Competition.Photos: Jordan Wharmby

Wall art bringing colour to Henry Loughran’s yard

by Michael Keaveny

Henry Loughran’s well-known public house in Navan has become a Bohemian-style gathering place for creatives as it hosts a wall art competition where artists were invited to make a mural piece.

The mural art competition was launched last week in the yard of the landmark establishment on Trimgate Street. The murals, of which there are 23 in total, were painted by regulars as, according to manager Niall Brennan, the pub is home to a thriving artistic community. It even has its own artist-in-residence in Jordan de Jong, who oversaw and curated the project.

“There are a group of regulars that come in and they’re all art students and we’ve local tattoo artists, and our own resident artist Jordan De Jong, who works full time painting both functionally and artistically in the pub," Niall explains.

"We were thinking of advertising the competition openly for entries, but we’re still trying to figure out what it is and iron out the kinks. We have enough people in-house between our staff and regular customers to get it done." The only rule for the competition was that no permanent damage was done to the walls of the pub and participants weren’t forced to stick to a particular theme. “The paintings will be more or less a square metre in size," says Niall. "The intention is that a year from now we’ll be able paint over it and start again. Entrants can paint anything at all as long as they don’t damage the walls, it’s pure mad. A few are a bit rude but most of them are quite sanitised. We had initially said if everyone had two or three eight hour sessions to work on it so people wouldn’t get in each other’s way but it worked out ok, everyone stuck to the spirit of the competition. They were all done in between eight to sixteen hours." If members of the public want to vote for their favourite one they can, with each vote being a monetary award for the artist. “We’re selling tokens for a fiver that will also enter people into a raffle," Niall said. “Instead of having first, second and third, we’ll have different categories like best painting, craziest painting. All of the money from the tokens will go towards the artist. We’re hoping to have presentation night later in the year where everyone will get a presentation of printout of their peace, different awards as well as getting an art expert in to appraise the pieces.” The competition is only one project the pub is undertaking to develop art in the area, according to Niall. "We’re going to start hanging canvasses in the pub and if anyone wants to paint on it and put their own price on it then they can. Grogan's Pub in Dublin sell art from local artists but give 100 per cent of the money to the artists and we’re local at doing something because we love art. If the competition goes well and it proves that we’re an artistic community then we can look at hosting art festivals here in future years."

Freelance artist Jordan says he is excited to be getting some colour going around the town, and is delighted to get the opportunity from Loughrans and Niall.

The showcase continues until 11th September next, with voting continuing over that period and the proceeds from tokens going to the artists.