We were contacted by Dublin City Council eight months after we had finished Stormzy. We were informed that because the artwork had not been granted planning permission it must be removed or we would face enforcement proceedings, i.e. the threat of legal action and potential fines / imprisonment for not complying with the order.
A few days later we were contacted by DCC again, this time being told that Gracie had to be removed for the same reasons. But one additional reason in this instance was the building we had painted is a protected structure. We believe the list of protected structures is, again, both necessary and understandable but is, again, archaic and suppressive. Although the building in question was "protected", before we painted the wall it was in rag order.
After the artworks were removed we were contacted by the architecture firm GOKU. They offered to help us communicate with DCC. We let them know we already had plans and asked if they could assist. They've done a lot for us and even more for the arts, if it wasn't for them there wouldn't be a Grey Area. So we met, laid out our initial plans for Grey Area and they have been part of the project ever since.
Once we had a better suss on the legal aspect of this whole situation ourselves and GOKU put together a framework for the licensing of public artworks. This was essentially a simplified, yet comprehensive, version of the existing approval process - planning permission. We presented this to DCC. They weren't feeling it. We were told that this was a matter for the Minister For Housing and / or the Minister For Arts. And that the Minister For Housing had a housing crisis to deal with, so this wouldn't be a priority. That was completely fair and that is when we decided to link up with ICHH.
DCC ordered us to "cease and desist" with the Grey Area project directly after this meeting. This was off the record, and in fairness to the DCC representative they were just giving us the heads up - stop now or else we will be "forced" to pursue you. But one of the issues here is that there is a lack of clarity on the regulation and off the record conversations don't help, they just confuse the matter further. But on that point, DCC is a decent organisation filled with decent people, but shit moves slowly in there and they are "risk" averse. We're just trying to speed things up.
We moved ahead with Grey Area and we reached out to two government
Grey Area I:
1 Screening / Exhibition.
€2,500.00 raised for ICHH.
Grey Area II:
€20,500.00 raised for ICHH.
Since the exhibition multiple artists have painted additional artworks for Grey Area. Several of which have highlighted Climate Change, Mental Health and the Housing Crisis. We're currently refining the project and are in the process of planning a mural festival. We've also set up a Patreon with the aim of trying to raise funds to cover the costs associated with projects and events likes this.
We recently painted a piece in homage to David Attenborough to raise awareness regarding Climate Change. DCC have written to us to outline that they have received a complaint regarding the artwork and that they are currently investigating it. We have responded explaining that planning permission is not required, amongst other things. We're awaiting their response but like we said at the forum - we're going to choose an artwork that we don't remove at their request. And if it comes to it, and a judge finds us guilty of an offence, if they want to send us to prison for making art so be it. Maybe this will be the one.