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  • Irish Arts Review

    Art of the State: Inheritance, Development, LegacyAuthor(s): Jacquie MooreSource: Irish Arts Review (2002-), Vol. 23, 175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works(2006), pp. 6-11Published by: Irish Arts ReviewStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25503510 .Accessed: 12/06/2014 23:46

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  • II ART OF THE STATE - INHERITANCE, DEVELOPMENT, LEGACY

    6 |

    OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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  • 175 OPW

    The Office of Public Works Oifig na nOibreacha Poibli

    Art of the State

    Inheritance, development, legacy

    JACQUIE MOORE charts the constantly evolving role of the OPW in purchasing and

    commissioning contemporary art works for new State buildings

    In December 2004, the Government launched

    Public Art: Per Cent for Art Scheme, General

    National Guidelines -

    2004.l The OPW was one

    of several government departments who played a

    role in the formation of these national guidelines.

    However, the OPW has long been involved in art proj

    ects, beginning in the 19th century.

    Since its establishment by a British Act of Parliament

    in 1831, the OPW has played a principal role in the

    provision of government buildings in Ireland and

    abroad. With these properties came the responsibility

    for their contents, including furniture and art works. In

    the 19th century, the OPW was responsible for the

    management of Dublin Castle and also the residences

    of the British Government officials in the Phoenix Park;

    the Under Secretary's Lodge (now the site of the

    Phoenix Park Visitors Centre), the residence of the

    Chief Secretary (now home to the American

    Ambassador), and the Viceregal Lodge (now Aras an

    Uachtar?in). These properties and others such as the

    Royal Hospital Kilmainham, yielded the majority of art

    works (Fig 5) inherited by the Irish Government in

    1922 following the departure of the British administra

    tion. The collection contained portraits of British mon

    archs, lords lieutenant, political monuments and sculp

    tures in public parks. The OPW Art Management

    Office continues to monitor these art works and has

    responsibility for their care and conservation.

    In more recent years, the OPW's dual responsibili

    ties as an architectural practice and procurement

    agency for other government departments has ensured

    its central role in art acquisition. In the OPW, the

    management of art works has always been undertaken

    at the most senior level. Over the years, past chairmen,

    commissioners, secretaries and principal architects

    have taken part in the commissioning and purchasing

    of art works on behalf of the state.

    In its formative years, the role of the OPW in

    relation to art acquisition was split into two distinctive

    categories: the active commissioning of art works such

    as portraits and portrait busts of national leaders; and

    the management of procedures leading to the installa

    tion and erection of monuments of national impor

    tance. Since the 1970s, the OPW has been involved in

    the purchasing and commissioning of contemporary art

    works. In 1974, the OPW first acquired contemporary

    art works for new buildings and Irish embassies

    abroad, taking advantage of the Joint Purchase

    Scheme established by the Arts Council in the late

    1960s (Fig 9). In 1978 the OPW requested permis sion from the Department of

    Finance to operate per

    cent for art funding in

    Ireland for the first time and

    stated its case as follows:

    'The provision of

    works of art of various

    kinds has come to be an

    accepted feature of mod

    ern office blocks and similar

    i

    1 Barrie Cooke

    Whitethorn Bush

    1966 oil on canvas

    154 x 128cm

    2 Janet Mullarney

    The Offering 2001 bronze

    23 x 36 x 15cm

    OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION |

    7

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  • The OPW has remained committed to exploring the

    relationship between art and architecture in hundreds of public buildings throughout Ireland

    3 Michael Boran

    The Projectionist 1997 cibachrome

    photograph 70 x 94cm

    Image courtesy the artist

    4 Andrew Folan

    Revelation 1995

    etching and

    photography 125 x 94cm

    5 Gaetano Gondolfi

    (1734-1802) Juno

    and the Peacocks

    oil on canvas

    101 x 101cm

    6 Kate Warner

    Clothesline 2005

    oil on panel 40.5 x 43cm

    buildings. It is the practice for developers to have such

    works incorporated in the design of their buildings and

    the public and the occupants of such premises now

    expect to see them. They add a desirable dimension to

    structures which can be very prosaic and uniform in

    their construction and finishes. They also provide an

    outlet for artistic talent in the country and give much

    needed opportunities for employment... we now

    seek the sanction of the Minister for ^^^^m

    Finance to the expenditure of funds ^^^^^^^^^k on works of art in selected new

    ^^^^^^^^^H buildings. We consider 1% of the ^^^^^^^^^^H cost of a building or say ?6,000 ^^^^^^^^^^^B whichever is the lesser would be ^^^^^^^^^^^^B the correct proportion of cost to ^^^^^^^^^^^H spend on such works.'2 ^^^^^^^^^^^H

    Happily the Department of ^^^^^^^^^^^B Finance agreed to the request and ^^^^^^^^^^H the OPW has remained committed ^^^^^^^^^H to exploring the relationship between ^^^^^^^^| art and architecture in hundreds of public ^^^^^B

    building projects throughout Ireland. Today, the LI

    OPW has responsibility for over 7,000 art works locat

    ed in public properties throughout Ireland.

    The OPW Art Management Group was set up in the

    early 1990s to formalise policies and procedures in

    terms of the OPW's acquisition and collection manage

    ment activities as it had become apparent that the OPW

    was responsible for a substantial number of historic and

    contemporary art works. Since its formation, the Group

    has comprised senior personnel in the OPW, including

    the Chairman, Commissioners and the Principal

    Architect. The first Art Adviser to the OPW was Noel

    de Chenu, HRHA, who was then the retired principal

    architect. The current Art Adviser is Patrick J Murphy,

    HRHA. Other business units within the OPW are rep

    resented on the Group, including Architectural

    Services, Board Support, Facilities Management,

    ^^^^^ and the Art Management Office.

    ^^^^^^^^ One of the best practice principles set

    ^^^^^^^^^L down in the recent National

    ^^^^^^^^^^L Guidelines is that public engagement

    ^^^^^^^^^^A with the art works is an essential

    ^^^^^^^^^^^k part of the process. Since 1991,

    ^^^^^^^^^^^1 the OPW has toured an

    ^^^^^^^^^^^H exhibition, entitled 'Art of the

    ^^^^^^^^^^^m State'. Over the years, paintings,

    ^^^^^^^^^^m sculpture and original prints have

    ^^^^^^^^W been exhibited in venues throughout

    ^^^^^^^^ Ireland and abroad. Since 1997, the

    ^^^^^ Department of Finance and Personnel of

    Li Northern Ireland has co-operated with the OPW

    in the exhibition, exhibiting a selection of works it has

    purchased for the Northern Ireland Civil Service

    Collection (N1CS). The NICS has been in existence since

    the early 1960s and represents the works of more than

    540 artists, mainly from Ulster. This joint exhibition has

    proved an important joint cultural venture between

    North and South, with ministerial involvement and sup

    port from Irish, Northern Irish and UK Governments.

    8 I

    OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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  • ART OF THE STATE - INHERITANCE, DEVELOPMENT, LEGACY

    / _ r *

    The 2006 touring exhibition is entitled 'Reflections'.

    Most of the works have been purchased very recently

    for new building projects and some of them are by

    recent art college graduates (Fig 6). The A

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