Smithfield Square Lower

Smithfield is a part of Dublin 7 that has seen significant change in the past 25 years. Bordered by the River Liffey, Stoneybatter, Grangegorman and the city centre, it has been transformed from an agricultural marketplace into a complex of contemporary residential and commercial developments where many Dubliners live and work.

About the site

Smithfield Square Lower is a modestly-proportioned, pedestrian square located between the Red Line Luas tracks and Arran Quay. While the square itself is generally quiet, it sees high levels of passing pedestrian traffic and is looked upon daily by thousands of Luas users in transit across the city.

About the commission

The Smithfield Square Lower commission invited artists to propose an artwork that promotes meaningful interaction between people and place through contemporary sculptural practice. It asked artists to consider how public sculpture can define a space and re-focus people’s attention, enabling a deeper and enduring relationship between residents, workers, tourists, commuters and a city-centre neighbourhood.

Commissioning process

Through a two-stage, open competition, artists were invited to propose a new permanent public sculpture for Smithfield Square Lower. Full details of the commissioning process are included in the Commission Brief.

The Selection Panel for Smithfield Square Lower included:

  • Councillor Ray McAdam (Central Area public representative)
  • Gráinne Foy (Smithfield local community representative)
  • Donncha Ó Dúlaing (representative of DCC Parks and Landscape Services)
  • Margarita Cappock (representative of the City Arts Office)
  • Paula Murphy (representative of Sculpture Dublin Steering Group)
  • Logan Sisley (representative of the Hugh Lane Gallery)
  • Mark Richards (external art expert)

Non-voting Chair: Ruairí Ó Cuív (DCC Public Art Officer)

Commissioned Artist

Alan Butler

I’m absolutely delighted to be included in the Sculpture Dublin programme. The work that I am producing for Smithfield Square Lower aims to create a fun new landmark for Dublin. The process is exciting too, as it will involve fabricating an iconic digital object in the mode of traditional bronze sculpture. Its form was chosen as a symbol of human connection, while also lying historically at the intersection of mathematics, architecture, animation, film-making and visual art production.

Alan Butler 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.

Alan Butler is an artist living and working in Dublin. Educated at NCAD, Dublin and LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore, he works across a range of media to primarily explore digital cultures and video games. His work has been exhibited widely in museums, galleries and arts festivals around the world, and is part of many collections, including The Irish Museum of Modern Art, The National Gallery of Ireland, and the Arts Council of Ireland. He is part of the multi-disciplinary collective Annex, which will represent Ireland at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2021.