Introduced to Orson Welles’ iconic film Citizen Kane, as a student at the National College of Art and Design in the 1980’s, artist Darina Meagher now revisits the film to explore the concept of ‘radioactive memory’.

Citizen Kane opens with Kane on his deathbed murmuring his last word “Rosebud”, “Rosebud” is the enigma which the narrator seeks to solve throughout the film.

“Rosebud” is described as a radioactive memory by Peter Bradshaw, in the Guardian Newspaper (25 April 2015). According to Bradshaw:

Rosebud is more probably Welles’s intuition of the illusory flashback effect of memory that will affect all of us, particularly at the very end of our lives: the awful conviction that childhood memories are better, simpler, more real than adult memories – that childhood memories are the only things which are real. The remembered details of early existence – moments, sensations and images – have an arbitrary poetic authenticity which is a by- product of being detached from the prosaic context and perspective which encumbers adult minds, the rational understanding which would rob them of their mysterious force. We all have around two or three radioactive Rosebud fragments of childhood memory in our minds, which will return on our deathbeds to mock the insubstantial dream of our lives (April, 2015).


If you have a story or an image that triggers a childhood memory for you and that you are willing to share, Meagher would like to hear from you. It is hoped that the work will represent a series of radioactive memories, each one just as authentic to its owner as “Rosebud” was to Kane.

This is an ongoing exploration – the source of the memory you share and its explanation will remain anonymous. You are invited to join this project by emailing a word, image or a description of your image to [email protected].

Radioactive Memory will take place 9th to the 15th October, Pallas Projects/Studios, 115–117 The Coombe, Dublin 8, Ireland. Gallery hours, 12–6pm, Thursday–Saturday.

Darina Meagher 2017