‘Just our imagination’

Bridget Lambert has spent the summer painting a tribute to Dolores O’Riordan with children in rural Limerick.  The singer, who died in January this year, was born a few miles from Caherconlish, where Bridget worked with children from local schools. A Cranberries fan herself, she took pleasure in introducing some of the children to the music of a great Irish artist. When she told me about this work, I was reminded how much participatory art happens quietly, all over the world, for no other reason than that the people involved want to enjoy and share their creativity. I’m grateful to Bridget for her text and permission to include her photographs of the work in progress. 

‘Just our imagination’

A guest post by Bridget Lambert (Limerick, Ireland)

This mural was designed and created over the lovely hot summer of 2018. As part of my research thesis for the Sociology Department at the University of Limerick. I decided to get involved in a Community Art Project. As an artist I was drawn to the concept of a mural where children could express their creativity while working collectively. The finished mural pays tribute to the late Dolores O’Riordan, Limerick’s beautiful and talented artist and singer with The Cranberries.

Approximately 30 children, aged between 5 and 12, from 6 local primary schools took part in the community project, working in my sitting room over three months of the summer. Having discussed many ideas, it became clear we all wanted colour and imagination to come alive on the canvas. With help and guidance from my sister Patricia Lambert, a Galway based artist, we sketched the beautiful portrait of Dolores, her guitars and dancing butterflies.

As the children and I painted the mural over the summer, I saw Dolores’ talent and vibrancy shine through in the children’s natural love and use of colour. Describing their experience of being involved in the project, many of the children expressed delight in  the exploration and use of paint, referring to how they mixed, created and experimented with colour. Some children spoke about the joy of expressing their creativity freely. All participants said they enjoyed working as part of a group and were proud to be involved in a participatory art project that enhanced their community.

Community spirit came to the fore during the hanging of the mural on August 14th2018. Ballyhoura Helping Hands and Caherconlish Tidy Towns Committee assisted in exhibiting the 10m x 3m canvas. The following day, some of the participants gathered with family and members of the local community to take some photographs. There was a buzz of excitement, a sense of awakening energy and hope in our community. Our beautiful mural of Dolores, the fluttering butterflies, the dancing notes and the rhythmic guitars vibrate pride and joy which we hope will resound through Limerick.

Caherconlish mural
Bridget Lambert’s mural of Dolores O’Riordan with school children in Caherconlish (Limerick)