Art News

Cork city sculpture trail

‘Island City’, a sculpture trail intended to enliven Cork’s streetscapes, is a welcome initiative in contemporary Irish art, bringing art out of the galleries and into the public realm.

Cork city sculpture trail
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‘Island City’, a sculpture trail intended to enliven Cork’s streetscapes, is a welcome initiative in contemporary Irish art, bringing art out of the galleries and into the public realm. Organised by the National Sculpture Factory and funded by Fáilte Ireland, when completed, ‘Island City’ will comprise five sculptures, each located at a different point in the city. All are ambitious in scale and will remain on show for five years. The first, Niamh McCann’s Sentinel, is sited in Carey’s Lane and pays homage to the avian inhabitants of the city. The second sculpture, made by an art/architecture collective known as Forerunner and titled Boom Nouveau, is sited at the junction of Cook Street and Oliver Plunkett Street.

The most recent placement is Face Cup, a work by Fiona Mulholland, which is positioned at the corner of Princes Street and Oliver Plunkett Street. The final two sculptures will be installed in the coming months.

Fixed to the outside of the Exchange Building, Mulholland’s impressive Face Cup comprises three gold-painted works made of polyester and fibreglass. The artist based Face Cup on pottery artifacts discovered two decades ago by archaeologists working on the N8/N73 road scheme at Mitchelstown. Dating from the Bronze Age, the artifacts may have been intended as playthings for children, or as quirky grave goods. One is a small cup, with a face and feet, another is a pottery vessel with ears and the third is a spoon. Mulholland has translated these objects into large elements that are now fastened, one above the other, to the outside of the Exchange Building, which has been painted with abstract geometric patterns. Face Cup provides a wry commentary on the history of the building, which stands on the site of a former theatre and once housed the Ivory Tower restaurant.

‘It was challenging to create a 3D sculpture on the side of a building,’ says Mulholland, ‘but I had great support from the archaeologists and some talented craftspeople. The pieces are painted gold as a nod to the Bronze Age. They link our past to the future, hopefully with some humour.’

Peter Murray

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