A powerful new piece of public art has been unveiled at Trinity College 4 years ago

A powerful new piece of public art has been unveiled at Trinity College


Street artist Joe Caslin, known for his large-scale black and white drawings, has released ‘The Volunteers’, a powerful new piece of public art in Front Square of Trinity College.


It is the first of a three-part piece of public art about modern volunteerism and some of Ireland’s most pressing issues: drug addiction, mental health, and direct provision.

The work in Trinity College Dublin looks at the decriminalisation of drug addiction and was installed in concert with the ‘Controlled Drugs and Harm Reduction Bill’ currently before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Caslin’s drawing features Fiona O’Reilly, Managing Director of SafetyNet, a primary care service to people who are homeless. “As a society we demonise some form of illness and determine others worthy of treatment. Class determines who we care for and who we criminalise,” said O’Reilly.

To Fiona’s left in the drawing is a male figure representing the medical establishment’s lapses in drug abuse intervention.

At the centre of the piece sits Rachel Keogh, an advocate in recovery from heroin addiction. Keogh states, “Joe’s vision twinned with the poem really articulates so well why change needs to happen and my voice couldn’t travel as far as this piece will.”

Senator Lynn Ruane, who also featured in the installation, sees clear strategies for reform that honour the dignity of every person. Ruane said, “The Controlled Drugs and Harm Reduction Bill introduced by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and I is intended to tackle the challenges of addiction in a way that truly helps solve it.”

Caslin continued, “The project aims to highlight endemic issues that impact Irish society and her people through the portrayal of emblematic volunteers. This articular drawing has been personally poignant as addiction courses through my family and friends in various guises, like most Irish households.”


The drawing is accompanied by a (forthcoming) short film featuring a spoken word piece written by poet Erin Fornoff, performed by Ally Ní Chiaráin, and scored by Maurice Seezer.

The film is the culmination of the time and effort of twenty people who donated resources and skills. It was directed by Brian Deane, and shot and produced by Robert Hallinan Flood. David Lawless of DTA Architects offered additional support. The project was supported by Trinity Creative Challenge and the Arts Council of Ireland.