2015年5月，都柏林正式修改婚姻法例，賦予同性戀者結婚權利。在當地進行公投之前，城內其中一條最繁忙的街道South Great George’s Street上出現了幾幅巨大的壁畫——一對男子緊抱著彼此、一對女生親吻對方⋯⋯另外，在一個古塔之上，則見一個長著黑長髮的人，把頭輕靠在戀人的肩上，戀人也是長髮過肩的，卻難以辦清是男是女。
May 2015, a referendum amended the Constitution of Ireland to provide that marriage is recognized irrespective of the sex of the partners. Before the referendum, on South Great George’s Street which is one of the busiest streets in the city, saw a few massive murals featuring two males embracing each other, or two females kissing each other. Another mural appeared on the wall of a castle, depicting a long hair person leaning his or her head on another long hair partner, without clearly specifying the sex of either person.
這系列壁畫名為「The Claddagh Embrace」，製作者是愛爾蘭的街頭藝術家Joe Caslin，本身是藝術及設計老師的他，憑著街頭藝術，回應著各種社會議題。他的首個作品「Our Nation’s Son」，一個個連帽外套的年輕人，或目光銳利地盯著路人，或面無表神目空一切，透過這系列作品，他嘗試討論人們對愛爾蘭年輕人刻板印象，以及這些印象為他們造成的心靈創傷。
These murals were part of the Irish street artist Joe Caslin’s “The Claddagh Embrace” campaign. Caslin teaches arts and design, and uses street art as a means to respond to social topics. “Our Nation’s Son” was Caslin’s first campaign that depicts young men in hoodies with a sharp stare or an empty look. He wished to discuss the rigid impression people had on the Irish youth and how the prejudices adversely affected the young ones.
Caslin treats his street arts as a reflection upon the contemporary social issues, but not a subjective self-expression. He usually performs an in-depth research that takes somewhere between two months to even two years before working on any new campaign. The next step is to search for suitable models, and spends another two to seven weeks working on their portraits. The drawings will then be enlarged into larger prints, affixed on building walls, and documented in photography.
Graffiti is not what Joe Caslin does. Printed in black and white, his works are placid sketches that are delineated and detached. Without any provocative statement written on the wall, the simple visual images have a magnetic quality that makes passerby wonder who are depicted in the murals, who is the person behind the murals, and what kind of message is he delivering.
Joe Caslin相信街頭藝術的力量，而正因為街頭藝術是最直接的跟大眾講通的手段，他極為重視作品的展示場所。作品的內容與場所的象徵性意議，常會產的化學作用，加強作品的感染力。尤其Joe Caslin所用的印刷材料是會輕易被生物分解的，他的作品僅會存在短時間，便更需要選擇能多接觸到人群的地方。「The Claddagh Embrace」選址在選擇車水馬龍的South Great George’s Street，新作的地點在在都柏林的Trinity College，都會因為這個原因。
Caslin believes in street arts for it is the most direct means to communicate with the general public. The content of artwork clashes with the venue, and diversify the implication through communicating or conflicting with the venue’s symbolic value. The sheets and adhesive used by his works are highly biodegradable — precisely because his works are short-lived, he needs a stage that allows him to reach the biggest crowd of audience. Therefore “The Claddagh Embrace” was set up on the bustling South Great George’s Street, and his current work was set on the wall of the Trinity College in Dublin.
「我覺得藝術在社會中處於很重要的位置，我們播種同理心的種子。我們的角色是觀察者，盡力起勾起討論；舉起一面鏡子；去維護、去挑釁。」Joe Caslin說。Joe Caslin的挑釁大概也是冷靜而條理分別的挑釁，沒有任何怒意與動蕩情感街頭藝術，會否更能教人平靜心思，細察自己身處的社會？
“I believe the artist has a valued place in society and that we are ‘cultivators of empathy’. our role is to be observant at all times and to do our best to create debate and feed back.”, said Joe Caslin. The debates brought up by Caslin are composed and logical, they do not carry any anger or hatred. Can the gentleness of his street arts create a tranquil platform for people to reflect on the society they are in?