Quite often something we are desperately seeking turns out to be right under our noses. For many years I was aware of Limerick sign painter Tom Collins. His work is synonymous with many of our city’s famous shopfronts. A number of months ago Tom introduced me to a small project he was considering for Limerick. His passion and energy was infectious.
The traditional art of sign painting might be considered a dying art. In some senses it still remains an endangered species. However over recent years sign painting has seen a resurgence, with many leading international retailers re-embracing this traditional hand craft sign style as a means reconnecting with customers and brand identity.
The global community of sign painters who have fought to lead the resurgence of the art have connected through social media allowing them to share ideas, thoughts and portfolios. Most interestingly they have also developed strong friendships through online portals.
The recent Love Letters from Limerick project is an example of how this unique artistic community is leading the renaissance of sign painting. Tom Collins started by inviting an internationally renowned sign painter from Texas to Limerick. With the help of Limerick Marketing and the Limerick 2020 team Sean Starr arrived in Limerick two weeks ago.
Both Tom Collins and Sean Starr are well respected sign artists. Their influence is testament to the fact that ten other leading sign artists also converged on Limerick over the past two weeks. The welcome they received from local hoteliers and businesses was something Limerick can be immensely proud of.
Our sign painting guests gave Limerick a display of magical creativity as they working on unique pieces of hand crafted examples of the skill of sign painting. They shared their energy, passion and pride with anyone who cared to engage. It was clear that this experience was one they were relishing. A small city on the west of Ireland was giving credit to their talent and skill.
Most of you will have seen the result of just one aspect of the Love Letters from Limerick project in the form of a giant sign which has been erected on the William Street side of Brown Thomas. Taking inspiration from the Cranberries’ first album “Everybody Else is Doing is so Why Can’t We?”, the installation is not only adding a new cultural reminder to our city. It asks a question. What is being asked is open to our own interpretation.
For me the question suggests the Limerick of today. We are now a place where we can take risks without the fear of failure. We are a city that is confident, energetic and creative.
My experience over the past two weeks has been remarkably moving. I had an opportunity to meet some of the most talented and genuinely nice people. Limerick showed its true colours by welcoming them with open arms.
The opportunity for Limerick to continue the process of re-imagining our city’s landscape through embracing sign painting is something we should not overlook.