A creative group is working to bring art and community together as one in this West Cork town, writes Brian Moore
CREATIVITY, art, music and community – that’s what Pulse Bantry is all about.
Formed by a group of talented locals, it is a collective of creative individuals comprising of craftworkers, painters, writers, musicians and other artists of all disciplines and none. The group has just one aim and that, according to Bernie O’Sullivan, is to bring colour and art to everyday life in Bantry.
‘We started with the realisation that there was a large number of original and creative people in town who seemed to find one another and who all came together with an idea to do something for the town,’ Bernie told The Southern Star. ‘We are a very mixed group. The whole purpose of Pulse Bantry is to bring artists, musicians, writers, etc together to create and enhance the community.’ And that’s exactly what they’re doing.
It all began when the group decided that it would be a splendid idea to add some colour to the centre of the town.
‘We started small with the notion of making local art visible and accessible to everybody, so on a grey day last April we decided to chalk an enormous yellow sun in the middle of the Square in Bantry,’ Pulse member Aoife Doolan said. ‘Kids just stopped and picked up some chalk and took part, as did people out jogging, shoppers, people walking their dogs. What started as an idea to bring some colour to a grey day became a community event.’
This was exactly the reaction the members of Pulse Bantry wanted to see. The chalk sun lasted just a few days as the rain, which is never too far away in Ireland, came down and washed it away. However, this event was the first step in what was to become a very enjoyable activity for the artists, locals and visitors alike.
‘Next, we planned to work on an installation for the West Cork Chamber Music Festival and thanks to all at the town library for giving us the use of the space,’ Bernie said. With the success of the colourful art installation at the library the group went on to work with both the West Cork Literary and Masters of Tradition festivals. ‘Working with the festivals was our way of showing the locals and the thousands of visitors to the town just what we could do. We wanted to make the locals more involved with the festivals and to show the visitor what the town had to offer when it comes to the arts.’
‘The response to the installations at the library was fantastic. Everybody loves the library, and we adapted each of the installations to showcase the festival that was taking place at the time. We went one step further with the Masters of Tradition when Áine Florence developed a Trad Trail where we gathered together musicians from around town and set up a musical walk around the town,’ Aoife said.
Then in June it was back to the Square for the Street Feast. ‘The Street Feast event proved to be one of the most popular we organised,’ Bernie said. ‘We put the word out, and we wanted to use the Square for what it was designed for – as a meeting place and a focal point not only for our event but for the town as well. It was unbelievable to see tables and chairs coming from all over the town. People arrived with flowers and we set up a huge dining room in the middle of the Square. Many tourists thought it was a wedding and they got involved as well.’
‘People arrived from everywhere, passing musicians stopped, set up and the music flowed.
It was really great to see so many people getting involved. It was all very spontaneous, and it brought the community together.’
After this success, Pulse Bantry got together with Bantry Chamber of Commerce and the Tidy Town committee to help with a project on Marino Street.
‘It was the idea of bringing community organisations together with artists – and the beautification of Marino Street was an excellent opportunity to do this.’ Recently the group has produced a Christmas mural on some building space at the iconic Vickery’s Hotel.
‘Speaking on behalf of the diverse group we have here at Pulse, I would like to thank the Bantry Chamber of Commerce, Bantry Library, Bantry Tidy Towns, Coakley’s Décor and all who helped out in their own way to make our visions a reality,’ Bernie said. ‘Their support in these initial steps of bridging the gap between the arts and our community has been fantastic.’