Kildare Cocooners

Written by Finian Coghlan of the Kildare Nationalist

A Kildare artist is working in conjunction with Older Voices to provide portraits of, and for Kildare cocooners, as they continue to endure the trials of loneliness and isolation.

‘Older Voices’ – a social inclusion initiative of the Council’s LEADER Partnership – which works with isolated older persons in Kildare, was contacted by artist Claire Murphy who volunteered to create a series of portraits of people cocooning in a simple effort to cheer them up.

Participants emailed in favourite photographs of themselves for Claire to sketch their portraits in pencil.

“The resulting artwork has brought joy to many and has highlighted those united by the experience of undergoing cocooning in Kildare,” said project co-ordinator Denise Croke.


This week the Kildare Nationalist tracked Claire down and asked her how this lovely gesture came to fruition.


“I’d been following the Kildare Leader page during lockdown, and I saw where they put up a photo of a lady who they gave a tablet for connection from cocooning,” said the NCAD graduate whose father hails from Athy.


“It was a lovely photo, and it gave me the idea, so I contacted Denise Croke for her help, and she sends me in the pictures of people in cocooning,” she said. “I’ve done 11 so far, and I have five more here to do,” she said, “and I’m really enjoying it”.


“This is such a lovely project and great for me to focus on,” she said. “People have such character in their faces, and that Denise and ‘Other Voices’ deliver them is a delight,” she added.


“That’s it. It’s a very simple projects, it’s very easy. This was a simple, straightforward thing that I can do, and it’s great,” she offered.


Normally, Claire Murphy – an NCAD graduate who lives in Kilcock – is an arts teacher at StewartsCare, a facility for adults with learning difficulties in Palmerstown, Co Dublin, and Kilcloon Co Meath.


In her other spare time, she works with the Kildare Arts Collective “trying to do projects as well”.

Each portrait takes her between an hour and an hour-and-a- half to complete.“Some of them are a double subjects,” she added.


“It’s an easy project for me, it’s only A4!” she said.


“It was literally random that I saw the picture on the Partnership page, and I can’t wait to do face calls,” she admitted.


“Honestly, for years I’ve been waiting to reach out to the community for a portrait service,” she said.


“I do a lot of portraits with service users here [in StewartsCare], but ‘Older Voices’ are able to reach out and contact people,” explained Claire.


“Hopefully, when this is all over we’ll be able to organise a proper exhibition – maybe for Bealtaine next year” she suggested.


“Although, I haven’t put a deadline on finishing this project. I mean, if they lift the restrictions, is this the end?”.


“It’s currently ongoing, is what I’ll say, Making it up as I go along is generally how I do things,” laughed the generous woman as we bid our adieus.


Older Voices Kildare (OVK) is working towards building the confidence and capacity of older people in Kildare and working to ensure older people are included and empowered within a vibrant community.


OVK, and Denise Croke, can be contacted here.

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