Some good news for Irish sculptors in these days of gloom is the announcement by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, of a scheme to have six new sculptures erected in public spaces around the city. The budget for the six sculptures is the considerable sum of €600,000 and the commissioning etc is being overseen by a new body called Sculpture Dublin.
Perhaps mindful of the negative response to past costly plans, such as the white-water rafting proposal for George’s Dock, the council is going all out to involve the public in this enterprise by encouraging local participation in developing the works. The six finished pieces will be sited evenly throughout the city, two each on the northside and southside, and two in the city centre. The sites are the new Ballyfermot People’s Park; Bushy Park, Terenure; Kildonan Park, Finglas; St Anne’s Park, Raheny; and Smithfield Square Lower; the final site is the empty plinth outside City Hall on Dame Street, where once stood John Hogan’s statue of Daniel O’Connell before it was moved inside the hall to sit in the Rotunda.
The sculpture in Ballyfermot will proceed in tandem with the the transformation of an area around the Community Civic Centre into a new space called the Ballyfermot People’s Park. The chosen work will be erected in this new park with the artist working with the park’s design team and members of the local community on the project.
Suzanne O’Connell, landscape architect with Dublin City Council and one of the team involved in the re-design of the park, remarks: ‘Public consultation is an essential part of the design process. The public are our clients and we engage with them to find out what they want. Ballyfermot has a distinct identity and local people want to be involved with the decision-making process on what is created in their community.’
Let’s hope that Dubliners fall in love with these new sculptures and bestow familiar nicknames on them as they did in the past.