NEWS! Updates from Sculpture Dublin…

  • Artist selected for the O’Connell Plinth sculpture
  • Artist selected for the Smithfield Square Lower sculpture
  • Artists shortlisted for Kildonan Park sculpture in Finglas
  • Prestigious panel selected to nominate artists for the permanent land art at St Anne’s Park
  • New online sculpture lecture series with Professor Paula Murphy to commence on 29 January 2021

Since it was officially launched in July 2020 by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu, the Dublin City Council initiative Sculpture Dublin has been progressing the commissioning process for the 6 new sculptures, as well as developing its public engagement programme. 

Update on Sculpture Commissioning Process 

The call for submissions was successful with 143 received for the open competitions, and 27% of those from artists based outside of Ireland. The standard of submissions received was high and a UK based, external assessor was engaged to assist with the long listing of applications. Following that, short-lists and selection were made by a different panel in each local electoral area. Given Sculpture Dublin’s emphasis on community engagement and involvement, each judging panel includes representatives from the local community, the Sculpture Dublin Steering Group, Dublin City Council, and an external art expert. The selection panels for the O’Connell Plinth, Bushy Park and Smithfield Square Lower will be reconvened at the end of November and early December to assess Stage Two submissions and to award the commissions.

O’Connell Plinth

Artist Alan Phelan was selected through a two-stage commission to imagine a new, temporary sculpture for the O’Connell Plinth. Alan Phelan has proposed a flamboyant red, green and blue work that brings together a wealth of references: to the ornate stucco plasterwork that graces many of Dublin’s iconic Georgian buildings, the ideals of the Enlightenment (of which O’Connell was a vocal supporter), commemorative objects, lost histories, counter-narratives, and the 1884 Dublin Castle Scandal. Standing over 5 metres high, the sculpture will celebrate emancipation in all its forms and offer itself to the city as a symbol of hope. Find out more here.

Smithfield Square Lower

Artist Alan Butler was selected through a two-stage, open competition, to propose a new permanent public sculpture for Smithfield Square Lower. Alan Butler is an artist living and working in Dublin. He has proposed a playful, engaging and slightly surreal work that takes the form of a well-known digital object, familiar across the globe. Transported from virtual reality directly into the physical world, the sculpture contains a patchwork of references and many layers of meaning – from a very Irish symbol of warmth and welcome, to a mathematical algorithm and digital tool that enables many contemporary creative industries. Find out more here.

Ballyfermot People’s Park

The first artist to be selected through a one-stage commissioning process is Breda Marron from Co. Louth, whose submission for the Ballyfermot People’s Park was unanimously agreed by the judging panel as the most appropriate for the site. The Ballyfermot People’s Park is located on Ballyfermot Road Lower and has existed as a green space since the surrounding houses were built in 1955. Plans are in place for Dublin City Council Parks and Landscape Services to create a ‘People’s Park’ adjoining the Civic Centre for people of all ages and abilities as a community hub for events, activities, informal recreation, rest and relaxation. Breda is an award-winning artist, who has been commissioned to do many public and private commissions in Ireland. She will be engaging with the local community over the months ahead to develop an artwork for the new park. Find out more here.

Kildonan Park

The commissioning process for Kildonan Park in West Finglas is a two-stage process, and three artists have been shortlisted against the criteria set out in the first stage. They are Sara Cunningham-Bell, Martina Coyle & Motoko Fujita (collaboration) and Emma Louise Moore. The next stage of the process will involve public engagement in the form of a creative exploration and consultation process facilitated by Dublin City Council Culture Company. Each artist will work with the local community over an 8-week period to develop ideas for their Stage Two submissions. One artist will be awarded the commission in Spring 2021. Kildonan Park is located between Kildonan Road and Mellowes Park and there are plans to develop it into a fully accessible public park for all members of the local community to use and enjoy. Find out more here.

St Anne’s Park

For the land artwork in St Anne’s Park, Raheny, the commissioning process is somewhat different given the specialist nature of the artform. The artists for this site will be nominated by an international panel of art experts including Lisa Le Feuvre, Director of the Holt/Smithson Foundation in the United States, Brussels-based Katerina Gregos, a critically acclaimed curator, writer and art historian, Barbara Dawson, Director of the Hugh Lane Gallery, and Annie Fletcher, Director of IMMA. Dublin City Council (Parks & Landscape Services and Arts Office) will also nominate artists for this commission.  Find out more here.

Public Engagement 

All of the commissions will benefit from local engagement programmes designed to raise awareness, provoke conversations about sculpture and involve people in discussing how sculpture and public art enhance their neighbourhood. 

In January, a new online monthly lecture series will commence, with fascinating insights from Professor Paula Murphy, a member of the Sculpture Dublin Steering Group and one of the foremost experts in modern Irish sculpture. Attendance is free and registration details can be found here for the first lecture.

Additional local engagement will take the form of online surveys, artists’ cafés and culture clubs, as well as opportunities to participate in partner projects with schools, community organisations, libraries and local history societies. You can find more information on sculpture in your area here.