Belfast Telegraph

Docklands art project reveals hidden talent from hopefuls aged 11 to 80

A community art project in Dublin's docklands has unearthed hidden talent in an exhibition for one of the country's top galleries.

Works by more than 30 aspiring and amateur artists from the inner city have been hung in Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, with experts hinting that there is a market for some of the creations.

The sketches, paintings, pastels and collages by artists aged from 11 to 80 were selected as part of Port Perspectives, Dublin Port's arts commissioning series.

Art professor Declan McGonagle, former director of the National College of Art and Design and curator of the project, said: "To be brutally honest, we're delighted that the work has turned out as well as it has.

"But I'm not surprised. Once people are given the opportunity and means, they can be very creative, even if they themselves have no tradition or don't believe in their ability.

"I'm delighted in the sense that people have realised some of their potential. That's visible. Everyone is creative in their own totally different ways."

Drawing clubs were held with five community groups across the inner city areas closely associated with the docks, including East Wall, Pearse Street and Ringsend.

Many of those who took part had direct family connections to the port, including 70-year-old Mairead Cullen, who grew up on Sheriff Street while her father Tommy "Glimmer" Byrne was a docker.

"I remember my dad going to work every day and one of us would go down with the billy can filled with tea and bread and jam for a sandwich. Our job as children was to bring them down on the bike over the cobble stones and half the tea would be spilt on the way," she said.

Mrs Cullen, a retired seamstress and member of Dublin Dock Workers' Preservation Society, painted boats on the Liffey, including the old dockers' ferry

"There was only supposed to be one hanging and they've picked three so I'm not complaining," she said.

"I'm going to keep them. I don't sell my artwork."

The exhibition runs until July 16.

Mr McGonagle said some of the most impressive work was done by the youngest would-be artists.

"These pieces belong to the people who have made them," he said.

"If these kids are given the opportunity to pursue this, I think they'd have a great future.

"I think some of these works have a commercial value. Some of them would do well in a commercial market."

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