Engaging with Sculpture with Professor Paula Murphy

A second series of monthly presentations on aspects of sculpture in Dublin broadcasted via Zoom between November 2021 and April 2022. The subject matter of each of the six hour-long sessions is listed below. Each session includes a short lecture on the topic in question, interaction with a relevant artist or art professional and a Q/A with the attendees. The lecturer, Paula Murphy, is a specialist in the history and theory of sculpture and has published widely on Irish sculpture. A UCD emeritus professor, she is a member of the Steering Group of Sculpture Dublin.

1. Stone

This talk will explore the use of stone in sculpture in the city and include discussion with a sculptor who works in stone. A visit to the sculptor’s studio will examine the tools that are used in the process and identify the difficulties of working with the material.

Guest Speaker: Sculptor and Conservator, Jason Ellis

2. Bronze

This talk will explore the use of bronze in sculpture in the city and include discussion with a sculptor who casts in bronze. A visit to the foundry will show something of the casting process. The essential differences between working in stone and bronze will be identified.

Guest Speaker: Sculptor Anna Campbell

3. Mixed Media

This talk will examine the use of mixed media in sculpture in the city and include discussion with a sculptor who uses a range of different media in their work. It will recognise the extent to which sculpture today can be made out of anything. A visit to an artist’s studio will reveal the varied materials and processes that can be involved in the making of a piece of sculpture and the reasons for using them.

Guest Speaker: Sculptor Isabel Nolan

4. Education

This talk will examine the education of sculptors in Dublin since its beginnings in the Modelling Schools of the Royal Dublin Society. Discussion with a professor of sculpture will enhance our understanding of the way in which sculpture is taught today in art schools when carving and modelling are no longer the only ways in which sculpture is made.

Guest Speaker: Brian Hand

5. Portraiture

This talk will examine sculpted portraits. Much of the sculpture in the public domain is portraiture – statue or bust – and many institutions throughout the city have large holdings of bust portraits. Discussion with a sculptor of portraits will identify the ways in which the approaches to a painted and sculpted portrait differ.

Guest Speaker: Vera Klute

6. Exhibition

This talk will examine significant sculpture exhibitions that have taken place in the city, while also identifying the rarity of such events. Painting exhibitions are and have been considerably more common occurrences. Discussion with a museum curator who has worked on a sculpture exhibition will identify the reasons for this.

Guest Speakers: Ruairí Ó Cuív & Rory Tangney


Sculpture Dublin City Hall Lecture Series with Professor Paula Murphy

A series of six lectures on public sculpture in Dublin was streamed online between January and June 2021. The lectures, which were filmed in the City Hall, explore public sculpture in Dublin from different viewpoints, as indicated in the lecture titles below. The lecturer, Professor Paula Murphy, is a specialist in the history and theory of sculpture and has published widely on Irish sculpture.

1. The Story

This lecture recounts the history of the city’s public sculpture since the first monuments were erected in the eighteenth century.

2. The Practice

This lecture examines the education of sculptors in Dublin, the making of sculpture, the materials used and the location of public sculptural work in the city.

3. The Commission

This lecture discusses the commissioning process – how a monument gets to be located in the city. The O’Connell Monument is used as a case study. After the filmed lecture, Jason Ellis, sculptor and sculpture conservator, will talk with Paula Murphy about conservation work on the monument.

4. The Sculptors

This lecture introduces some of the major sculptors who worked in Dublin in the nineteenth century and their practice. The contrast between the career of a local sculptor (Thomas Farrell) and an absentee (John Henry Foley) will be explored.

5. The Women

This lecture examines the role of women in public sculpture in Dublin, a practice that was largely male-dominated until the mid-twentieth century. The career of sculptor Gabriel Hayes will be used as a case study.

6. The Controversy

This lecture identifies the different ways in which public sculpture in Dublin has engendered controversy. Particular emphasis is given to the fate of the Imperial monuments that were erected in the city – most of which were destroyed and/or removed.


Conversation Pieces curated by Pádraic E. Moore

Guest curated by Pádraic E. Moore, a series of online conversations between the Sculpture Dublin commissioned artists and international arts professionals.

Pádraic E. Moore is a writer, curator and art historian. He is a graduate of CuratorLab, the curatorial programme at Konstfack University, Stockholm and a former participant of the Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht. Moore is curatorial programme mentor at De Appel, Amsterdam. He was guest curator at Garage Rotterdam from 2019 to 2021 and led several new commissions in this role. Recent curatorial projects include Tour Donas by Lucy McKenzie at Temple Bar Gallery Dublin and The Museum of Ancient History, a group exhibition at University College Dublin. He has organised curatorial projects in institutions including W139 Amsterdam, 1646 Den Haag, Irish Museum of Modern Art; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin and Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane.

Conversation Pieces I

For the first in the Sculpture Dublin ‘Conversation Pieces’ series, guest curator Pádraic E. Moore chatted with Alan Phelan and Pavel S. Pyś.

The conversation began with an exploration of some of the sources that informed Phelan’s new sculpture commission for the O’Connell Plinth, such as a pamphlet of flower poems written about the Dublin Castle Scandal of 1884. The conversation also touched upon the implications of occupying or activating an empty plinth and how appropriation endures as a vital strategy for contemporary artists.

Alan Phelan studied at Dublin City University and Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. His practice involves the production of objects, participatory projects, as well as curating and writing. Selected exhibitions include: Void, Derry; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris; RHA, Dublin; The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon; The Hugh Lane Dublin City Gallery, IMMA, The LAB, Dublin; LCGA, EVA International, Limerick; Solstice, Navan; Chapter, Cardiff; Bonn Kunstmuseum; Detroit Stockholm; Treignac Projet, France; Bozar, Brussels: ŠKUC, Ljubljana; SKC Gallery, Belgrade; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Public works include Kevin Street Library; Fr Collins Park, IMMA formal gardens and Void Offsites Derry.

Pavel S. Pyś is curator of visual arts at the Walker Art Center. At the Walker, Pavel has been working across a range of projects, including solo exhibitions with Daniel Buren, Paul Chan, Michaela Eichwald, Carolyn Lazard, and Elizabeth Price, as well as group exhibitions such as The Body Electric and Resonance: A Sound Art Marathon (co-curated with Doug Benidt). In 2018, Pavel was awarded an Andy Warhol Foundation Curatorial Fellowship which is aiding his research for the 2023 exhibition Multiple Realities: Experimental Art from the Eastern Bloc, 1960s–1980s. Prior to the Walker, Pavel was exhibitions & displays curator at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds between 2011 and 2015.

Conversation Pieces II

For the second in the Sculpture Dublin ‘Conversation Pieces’ series, guest curator Pádraic E. Moore chatted with Alan Butler and Dag Spicer.

The ‘Utah Teapot’ is a virtual teapot form, first devised and made publicly available in 1975 by mathematician, Martin Newell. The extent to which the image was rapidly embraced and utilised was described by Newell as “the 1970s version of something going viral”. This iconic teapot is a key reference in Alan Butler’s sculpture for Smithfield Square Lower in Dublin.

The conversation explored the implications of rendering a virtual image as a durable and permanent object. We looked at the history of Newell’s teapot, and considered what it means to collect and display technological artefacts – and the oral histories surrounding them – in the 21st century.

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, currently representing Ireland at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2021.

Dag Spicer is Senior Curator at the Computer History Museum in California, USA. He has guided the strategic direction of the museum’s permanent collection, the largest and most comprehensive grouping of computers, software, media, oral histories, and ephemera in the world. He has also played a key role in shaping the Museum’s exhibitions, lectures, programming and education initiatives. Dag serves on several museum boards, as well the editorial board of the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing.

Conversation Pieces III

For the third in the Sculpture Dublin ‘Conversation Pieces’ series, guest curator Pádraic E. Moore chatted with Sara Cunningham-Bell and Silvia Mazzucotelli Salice.

This conversation addressed some of the processes involved in implementing socially committed art projects. We explored the potential of urban artistic interventions to create dialogue amongst local communities and touched upon the concept of ‘New Genre Public Art’ as coined by Suzanne Lacy in 1994.

Sara Cunningham-Bell studied at Edinburgh College of Art, where she received the Andrew Grant Award. Sara has undertaken many public art commissions, including for the Ulster University, Kingspan Stadium, DECAL, IRFU, The Mater Hospital, Victoria College Belfast, European Union Programme for Peace and Reconciliation, Bass Ireland, and the Centre of Theology and Philosophy. She represented Ireland at the Salon Grands et Jeunes D’Aujourd’Hui in Paris, Luxembourg and Japan, and a recent work, ‘Towards Tomorrow’ was short listed for the Irish Sculpture Concrete Award. Sara is represented by The Hamilton Gallery and her work is held in various public and private collections.

Silvia Mazzucotelli Salice is a cultural sociologist who carries out didactic and research activities with attention to the issues of material culture, cultural industries – such as art, fashion, food and design – sharing practices and their interactions with urban transformations.

She holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Research Methodology from the Catholic University of Milan and a MA in Communication from the same university. During her PhD she was Visiting Scholar in the School of Art of the University of Washington in Seattle (USA).

She currently works as Lecturer in Cultural Sociology at Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. Within the same university she is a member of the Board of Directors of ModaCult-Center for the study of fashion and cultural production and has a courtesy appointment in the Arts and Crafts Research Center. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Sociologica published by the University of Bologna and of the book series Produrre cultura creare comunicazione, published by FrancoAngeli.

The design and management of training courses in the field of Communication Management represent a significant part of her academic career. She is member of the Board of Directors of the Master in Communication for the creative industries (Faculty of Political and Social Sciences & Faculty of Psychology) in Milan and of the Master in Communication for the wine sector and the territory (Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology) in Brescia. Moreover, she is also Director of the Master in Brand & Communication Management at Milano Fashion Institute.

Her research interests include, among other things, studies on the social construction of public space, on culture and regeneration processes guided by art and on the use of public art as a tool for urban regeneration.

Conversation Pieces IV

For the fourth in the Sculpture Dublin ‘Conversation Pieces’ series, guest curator Pádraic E. Moore chatted with Corban Walker and Jessica Smith.

In 1976, the artist Lee Ufan wrote that “The condition that gives life to sculpture is the degree to which it can interact with the surrounding space and therefore liberate itself. Works of sculpture must be structures with many gaps that let in a larger world”. The desire to create interactions between site and sculpture is a crucial aspect shaping Corban Walker’s new commission, which reflects the  sylvan environment of Bushy Park Dublin.

This conversation will focus upon some of the vocabulary Walker has used in this sculpture and how it resonates with Minimalism. We will also consider the dramatic implications that site has upon the way in which a sculpture is viewed and interpreted. With a particular focus upon “Sculpture in the Expanded Field” we will explore some of the aesthetic and logistical implications of positioning sculpture in a public urban park and sculpture park.

Corban Walker was educated at NCAD, Dublin, and since the mid-1990s has gained recognition for his installations, sculptures and drawings using industrial materials to explore philosophies of architectural scale and spatial perception. He has exhibited in museums and galleries – and realised important public art commissions – worldwide. Walker’s work is part of numerous public and private collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and IMMA, Dublin. He represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and received the Pollock Krasner Award in 2015. A member of Aosdána, the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork will present an exhibition of his work in 2022.

Jessica Smith is the Director of the New Art Centre in Salisbury, Wiltshire, where she works together with the founder Madeleine Bessborough and Creative Director Simon Hucker. Jessica Smith has previously held positions at White Cube and Blain|Southern.

The New Art Centre specialises in 20th and 21st-century sculpture, and represents the Estates of artists including Barbara Hepworth. The gallery was founded in 1958 in Sloane Street, London.

The New Art Centre gave the first exhibitions to many Modern British artists and continues this approach to this day, exhibiting the work of emerging contemporary artists alongside British Art from the 1950s to the present day.

Based at Roche Court, Wiltshire, for over twenty years, the New Art Centre was the first sculpture park of its kind in the United Kingdom. Modern and contemporary sculpture is sited in a 60-acre sculpture park. A changing programme of exhibitions is held in award-winning contemporary gallery spaces within the grounds.

Visit for further details and full listings of artists and artworks.