Cork Pride team and Artist-in-Residence angered by art theft

The Cork Pride Team and Stephen Doyle say they are saddened by the theft of two works of art, but it doesn't come as a strong surprise.

Split screen image: A white building's outer wall with black graffiti and two paintings mounted on it (left); A close-up image of a hinge with screws sticking into the air where a painting used to be before being taken in Friday’s art theft (right)
Image: @stephendoyleart via Twitter

Though Cork’s LGBTQ+ community continues to celebrate through the end of Pride month and into July, the community suffered a blow through the June 24 theft of two works of art from the Cork Pride Artist-in-Residence installation. 

Cork Pride has reported the theft to An Garda Siochana, which began canvassing the area for further information the day after the art was stolen. The installation’s location in the centre of Cork City leads the Cork Pride Team to be hopeful that some person or security camera will have information that helps lead to the return of the art.

A visual artist based in Cork, the Artist-in-Residence Stephen Doyle has won multiple international awards for his art. Using Cork’s LGBTQ+ community as inspiration, Doyle created pieces depicting Cork-based members of The Gay Project and LINC “engaging with one another in-built safe spaces” for his Artist-in-Residence installation.

“Recent events in Ireland have reminded us how far we still have to go as a society and how important these spaces are to the queer community,” Doyle said in a June 25 statement on the theft. “We require these spaces to share our experiences, bond, heal and find our families.” 

He noted how creating the installation in a public space “mirrors the level of vulnerability we feel existing as ourselves walking the street.” This feeling of vulnerability has likely been heightened by the recent homophobic attacks Doyle assumedly references, and perhaps by the very art theft itself.

Even before the theft, Doyle’s experience creating his art installation proved that feeling to be entirely justified. Though they were in the minority of commenting passers-by, Doyle said some people “spat homophobic and anti-lgbtq+ rhetoric” at him while he painted. 

“To say I’m upset is an understatement yet I’m not shocked,” Doyle said about the theft.

He didn’t feel any desire to guess at the thief’s motives but did say that “given the amount of effort it would take to remove [the paintings], it meant someone really wanted them far from the public realm.” 

The Cork Pride Team additionally noted in a statement from June 25 that the artworks had been “ripped from their secure fixings,” seemingly indicating a strong desire and intent to remove the art.

“We are disappointed, upset, and angry,” the Cork Pride Team said. The Artist-in-Residence site had already been vandalised multiple times during the installation, their statement disclosed.

Cork Pride 2021’s mural from the UP Cork LGBT Youth Project, which provides support and a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth, similarly suffered vandalisation at the same location last year.

The Pride Team asks that, should anyone have information about the stolen paintings, they contact Cork Pride, Stephen Doyle or An Garda Siochana.

Nonetheless, Cork Pride continues on with its head held high, as is its purpose and its right. “We will not be silenced, and the homophobes will not win,” the Team’s statement read. “We are a resilient community, and such acts only serve to spur us on, and redouble our efforts.”

Cork Pride will take place from July 23 to July 31, centred around a theme of ‘Proud To Be.’

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