Connor Harrington / London

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Artist Conor Harrington, was born in Cork, Ireland in 1980. He lives and works in London with his girlfriend, Chloe Early, also a painter. Conor drinks the big pints and Chloe drinks the little ones.

The following Qs come courtesy of JJ O Donoghue from the legendary site for time wasters Out of Site

 

1. Why did you become an artist?

Because I’m not much good at anything else. Well actually I make really good cups of tea.

2. Are you a graffiti artist, a figurative painter, or simply a painter?

A painter first and foremost. If you asked me that 10 years ago I would have said a graffiti writer but now as I get older I’m trying to shake off all those labels. It’s a strange position for a lot of us these days. We come from graffiti and street art but now we want to move beyond that. Thats why I like the term post-graffiti a lot. It sounds pretentious but its the label that I find most accurate really. I used to do graffiti. now I paint. But I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t painted on the streets. Simple.

3. What attracted you to graffiti and what age did you first hit the mean streets of Cork?

I saw my first graffiti piece in National Geographic magazine when I was 12. I had never seen anything like it. It was alien to me. At the same time my friend gave me a copy of Public Enemy’s ‘Takes a Nation of Millions…’ album so there was this other world opening up before me. I did my first piece in October 1994 with my brother and buddy. Kev did a K, Ed did an E and I did a C. Progressive stuff. The boys gave up soon after but I was hooked. As cliched as it sounds, it changed my life and was my first love. Aww.

artattack‘ART Attack’, Cork, 1996

4. Being from Cork too, I can hardly remember one single piece of grafitti in the eighties and into the nineties, although I am sure there was. Did you ever wish you were somewhere else, like New York where there was a scene and crews?

What, I thought I was all city? Did I not wreck your neighbourhood? Obviously not. Yeah at the time I totally wished I was living somewhere else. There was no one really doing anything. I know there was activity before my time and a few people tagging a little but there was nothing substantial while I was coming up. My buddy Tribe was very active but he was more into bombing where as I wanted to do pieces.

I was completely directionless. I had nobody to show me the ropes and had absolutely no reference point. But with the benefit of hindsight I can see how beneficial the isolation was for me. I never really got dragged into the strict doctrine of graffiti. For something supposedly so free, it’s overpowering rules and codes of conduct are killing the spontanaeity of the artform. I had nobody to tell me what to do and I think that has informed my leftfield approach to this scene.

abc-gaa‘ABC’ (Artists Beyond Control), Bishopstown GAA, Cork, 1997

5. You ever got caught by the Gardai (Irish police)?

Yeah a few times. The first time I got caught they put me in the cell for the night. We had been seen tagging by a passer by who must have had the only mobile phone in Ireland at the time and he rang the Gardai. We were sitting in Abrakebabra enjoying a feed of chips when about 4 of them surrounded our table and marched us out in single file. Foolishly they let us walk ahead of them so the first 2 lads made a run for it while me and Tribe were grabbed, thrown against the car and handcuffed. Bundled into the back seat and driven off with the lights flashing and sirens screaming. The guard in the passenger seat turned around and as would only happen in Ireland, I recognized him as being my school buddies Dad.

I met Solo One in 1998 and he told me if I ever get caught by the police to always treat them with respect and you’ll be fine. I did this on other occasions and always got let off and they never even took my paint off me.

The best thing about being a writer in Cork was that the police didn’t understand what graffiti was. They didn’t realize that if you do it once, chances are you’ll do it the next night and the next night.