Lonely Planet Writer

Dublin's grey traffic light control boxes are getting a colourful makeover

If you’re wandering through the streets of Dublin, keep an eye out for a public art initiative that is injecting a burst of colour into the city landscape.

‘Park Life’ by Niamh Ní Bhroin located at Parkgate Street/Seán Heuston Bridge, Dublin. Image: Niamh Ni Bhroin

The Dublin Canvas initiative has given many of the Irish capital’s grey traffic light control boxes a colourful makeover, as part of a community art project intended to bring flashes of colour and creativity to everyday objects in the city.

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“There are large grey metal traffic light control boxes dotted right across Dublin,” project co-ordinator, David Murtagh, explained to Lonely Planet.

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“They attract tagging/vandalism and generally drag the look of each area down. These boxes are always naturally located at traffic junctions, making them ideal platforms to exhibit high-quality art to the public.”

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Dublin Canvas drew on the talents of highly creative artists living in Dublin to transform the boxes into colourful street art. The reaction from both the artists and the public has been very positive, David said.

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“These artists love painting and exhibiting their work to the public, and the public generally love the artwork,” he says. “It’s a win-win situation for all involved.”

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One such artist is Niamh Ní Bhroin, a graphic artist from Greystones, Wicklow, who now lives in Dublin and loves to illustrate in her spare time.

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“My two box paintings reflect the ‘harmonious’ relationship between the hectic everyday comings and goings of city life and the flourishing urban wildlife,” she says. “It took me a full day to paint each one, with some finishing touches on the second day.”

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Niamh remembers the interest from visitors to the city as she painted her first box, “City Wildlife,” which is located on the corner of Merrion Street.

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“It was the hottest day of the year,” she recalls, “with plenty of tourists around watching and asking questions. It was a challenge, but a great experience.”

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“I got to chat with a lot of friendly people, who were all very curious about the project and loved the idea of it. I think Dublin Canvas is great, as the boxes simply brighten up our city and make people smile.”

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There are now a total of 193 boxes completed around the city, and David is presently creating a list of potential boxes to be painted throughout the summer and autumn.

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“The completed artwork brightens up and turns these once dull, heavily tagged boxes into beautiful works of art, transforming Dublin City into a walking gallery of public art,” he said.

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“The project takes previously unused public spaces and transforms them into canvases, making Dublin a more beautiful place to live, work and visit. Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones.”

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Follow Dublin Canvas on Instagram here  and check out the website here.