Using art to support marriage equality in Ireland

With Ireland's referendum on marriage equality a little over a month away, the Yes camp is stepping up the game. In one of the most articulate campaigns run on social media, the Yes supporters are appealing to the Irish voters to vote yes, so they can support their family, friends, or neighbors to live the life they love.

The most recent addition to the campaign is the Equality Mural on South Great George Street in Dublin. Picturing two local men wrapped in a tender hug, the statement on the upcoming referendum took 12 hours to make, some of which was spent in pouring rain.

However, the mural - which was painted with the permission of the building owners - is now order to be removed by the Dublin City Council. One of the member of the council has commented on the manner: “It’s the equivalent of having an ad on the building; it’s unauthorized and constitutes a breach of the planning act.” Petition asking Dublin City Council NOT to buckle to the pressure, and allow the mural to stand high and proud on South Great George's Street has been launched two days ago and is already counting over 40 000 signatories.

Created as a collaboration between photographer Séan Jackson and street artist and teacher Joe Caslin, the mural was inspired by "Meeting on the Turret Stairs," a classic Irish painting that was reimagined to fit the picture of love. "Here you had a higher power that prevented their union from taking place. This was a perfect subject matter for what’s happening at the minute with the referendum. Here we have the higher power — which is the state — that is preventing this union from taking place," Caslin told Mashable.

Barry Jeffers, one of the models for the piece, also commented on the project: "To be honest, I didn't expect there to be such a huge media outpour over it. I can't even put into words how honored I am to be four stories tall with one of my best friends, standing up for something so important to me." There's also a deeper personal significance to him, he explains: "Sadly, my father passed away last year after a short illness, and the Claddagh Ring that he owned for 26 years was passed onto me. The Claddagh Ring represents friendship, loyalty and love, so it really fits into the key elements of what marriage equality is all about." Photos from Barry's Instagram show details of the drawing.

Despite the negative response from the Dublin City Council, the team behind the mural believes the piece will stay in place and already have plans to create a female version of the same image. "We want to put it down the country. We want to get it out of the city, because I think a referendum will pass much quicker in the city than in a rural environment," said Caslin. "It's not a capital referendum its a whole republic referendum."