Canvas shine on Dublin’s streets

BCFE art and design students have shared their experience of portraying their work across the capital.

Once upon a time in Dublin, heavily graffitied electricity boxes were a common sight, but in summer 2015 some of the boxes transformed into highly-visible pieces of art to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. 

Artists from various backgrounds have been chosen to help brighten up the city streets.  

Each box is located at traffic junctions across the city as part of the Dublin Canvas project. Two BCFE art and design students have taken part. 

First piece from O’Neill in 2018 / Source:  

Eilis O’Neill, visual communications undergraduate, has described having her art portrayed as a privilege and honour.  

She first participated in 2018 with ‘Neighbourhood Watch’, located on the Rathfarnham Road/ Dodder Road.  

O’Neill finishing her last piece in August / Source: Eilis O’Neill @ski_zzle  

“My inspiration for this piece followed my evening walk along the Dodder in my local area. It’s nature so you can often see foxes and swans around,” she says.   

Her last piece, entitled ‘Dublin Bike’, was painted in August. It took about two weeks to finish it because of weather conditions.   

“People would stop to talk to me. Some of them gave me money or asked me to do some private paintings. It was nice interacting with people.”   

‘Dublin Bike’ in Rathfarnham / Source: Eilis O’Neill @ski_zzle  

O’Neill admits that she thought of putting a mask on her design, but then she changed her mind. “Because it’d look better without nothing related to the pandemic.” 

On Instagram, people have been commenting on her great talent. “I drove past this the other day and it really stood out, it’s beautiful!” posted @aisgrainger.  

While user @irundublincity said: “It’s great. Every time I saw you there, people had stopped to talk, bravo again.” 

Joyful experience   

When asked about her experience in BCFE, O’Neill answered with enthusiasm that she’s enjoying it a lot because she attends college in person, rather than having mostly online lectures. 

“I’m very happy with every module. I love all of them and it’s nice to meet so many talented people with a different perspective.”  

She takes inspiration from Roderic O’Conor, who was an Irish painter with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist influences.  


Bowler’s piece inspired in an Irish legend / Source:  

Robert Bowler has been another one of the artists involved in this journey of turning Dublin into a walking gallery of public art.  

His 2019 piece ‘Setanta, The Hound of Cuchulainn’ is displayed at the Shangan Road in Ballymun.  

He said that he felt that the illustration worked well due to its close proximity to parks with a strong sporting community. 

He often bases his work on the themes of mythology and ancient history. His pieces focus on strongly structured three-dimensional illustrations with acrylic paint in a classical style.   

Bowler beside his last piece   / Source: Robert Bowler @bob_bowler_illustration  

Bowler is a Dubliner illustrator and animator. He earned his Higher National Diploma (HND) in Classical Animation in 2016, followed by a HND in illustration in 2018, spending a total of five years of training in Ballyfermot College of Further Education.   

His last piece can be seen on Arran Quay nearby the Brazen Head. In September, Bowler posted on Instagram: “Another piece for @dublincanvas, it’s always a pleasure to work on these projects and it feels great to have a piece of work within the city.”  

One user, @3vezes, replied: “Wow! I love the Dublin canvas initiative! Just saw yours on their Instagram! Class! Can’t wait to take a pic when I pass by! Congrats!”  

They are no longer simple electricity boxes. They are canvases part of a street art project that bring flashes of creativity and talent to help brighten up traffic junctions across the city. As they say, colour is life.   

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