A carved wooden ‘smile’ hangs from a tree in the square; a bumblebee buzzes in the library window; and cheerful painted affirmations are popping up everywhere from the local lake to street corners: it’s all part of a ‘guerilla art’ project which ‘ambushed’ a West Cork town over the weekend.

Residents of Dunmanway are this week discovering and enjoying the colourful pop-up urban art, pieces of which were placed at strategic points around the town over the weekend.

It’s the latest initiative by members of the local Men’s Shed, whose members spent some six weeks over the summer months creating pieces of art aimed at spreading some feelgood vibes throughout the town.

“This was an idea that developed during a conversation we were having in the Men’s Shed one day,” said Kirstie Smith, community development worker with Dunmanway Family Resource Centre, which supports the local Men’s Shed initiative.

“We were talking about cities like Bristol where there is a huge street art tradition, and the good it can do. We discussed the fairy houses in Leap and we thought it might be nice to do a similar type of public art project here in Dunmanway, so we did some research and the men decided to do an art project. We now have pieces of wood and slate with positive affirmations and words like ‘happiness’ painted on them, as well as some carved wooden sculptures.”

In all, some 20 individual pieces, including a colourful stone bumble-bee, were produced over a period of six weeks, said Ms Smith.

“The reason for this was to spread some positivity — just by doing something as simple as this can make someone smile. Then that positivity spirals outwards in a ripple effect. I don’t think local residents will really understand what it is until the pieces are out there — they are being installed around the town as a surprise. They will pop up in unexpected places to bring a smile to the faces of passers-by. We hope people will really enjoy it.

Charlie Horgan from Dunmanway, a member of the Men’s Shed and one of those who participated in the project, said: “Kirstie said to me that she was thinking about a guerilla art project. She asked me if I could picture was she was saying, and I agreed to make a few pieces. I never thought I was creative, but when I showed her the pieces she said I’d hit the nail on the head.

“One of the pieces is a big carved wooden smile. I call it ‘The Smile’ — I think it’d make you smile when you look at it!”


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