ArkLink developed, managed and directed by Bernadette Larkin, was born out of a concern that the arts in Ireland, instead of bridging social divides, can often intensify the gap between those at the centre of society and the more marginalized.
At its core, ArkLink’s social mission has been to work actively against this dominant tradition and to work towards a more socially inclusive approach. ArkLink worked with the children of Fatima Mansions in the belief that well-designed community arts practice can contribute distinctly and significantly to personal and social development and, in turn, enrich the lives of children and, by extension, their community.
Bernadette worked to develop links between The Ark (a children’s cultural centre), children, parents, community organisations and local schools. She also worked together with the ArkLink team and the local community to ensure that children are central to the continuous dialogue that informs the on-going practice.
In 2006 Bernadette curated an ArkLink Retrospective and catalogue entitled ‘The Butterfly Effect’ to document, showcase and celebrate the aesthetic growth of the children’s work during the life of the project. This exhibition, opened in The Ark by President Mary McAleese also marked the realization of one of ArkLink’s main aims, the transition into community ownership.
In June 2006 ArkLink was handed over to Fatima Groups United and the Fatima Regeneration Board to be integrated and managed within a community framework where the learning from it’s experience now forms the basis of an ambitious plan for children and young people living in the wider Rialto area.
Bernadette continues to work with artists to explore the role of creativity in personal and social development.