175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works || Art of the State: Inheritance, Development, Legacy

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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 Art

    Management Group initiated a policy within the

    OPW to support the work of emerging artists and this

    has proved a very successful venture (Figs 8&l10) dis

    playing innovative art works in non-gallery public

    spaces - in garda stations, local government offices,

    courthouses, and social welfare offices. Both the visit

    ing public and the staff working there have the oppor

    tunity to engage with contemporary art.

    This year sees the publication of the fourth volume

    in the series Art in State Buildings. This summary illus

    trated catalogue lists details of all art works commis

    sioned and purchased by the OPW between 1995 and

    2005. Earlier catalogues have documented the periods

    between 1922 and 1995. This new volume reflects the

    increase in the number of art works due to the govern

    ment's initial adoption of a per cent for art scheme in

    Ireland in 1994 and the increased funding levels deliv

    ered in 1997. An analysis of the art works acquired in

    the period reflects the commitment the OPW has to

    implementing the scheme in all its building projects.

    Other government departments operating the scheme,

    such as the Department of Environment and Local

    Government in relation to the roads and community

    projects; the Department of Health and Children in

    relation to hospitals; and the Department of Education

    and Science in relation to schools and colleges, will

    have undertaken art projects which reflect the nature

    of the work they do and the environment in which

    their per cent for art funding has been generated.

    The OPW Art Management Group has embraced

    the challenge of placing contemporary Irish art in the

    public domain. However, the OPW places art in work

    Patrick J Murphy Patrick Murphy ?s a renowned authority on contemporary Irish art,

    and also a keen collector. He was born in New Ross, Co Wexford,

    in 1939. In the course of a distinguished career in brewing he worked

    for Guinness in Dublin, London, Malaysia and Ghana, returning to

    Dublin in 1973, before joining the Irish malting industry as managing

    director of Irish Malt Exports Limited.

    As a passionate collector of art himself, he has always been

    generous with his business expertise in the cause of art, and has a

    long and honourable association with the burgeoning Irish art scene.

    In 1980 he replaced the founder Michael Scott as Chairman of

    Rose, the pioneering Irish Exhibition of Contemporary Art. Some of

    the main achievements of his chairmanship were obtaining the

    Guinness Hop Store as a venue for art exhibi

    tions and pioneering the Royal Hospital

    Kilmainham as an exhibition space for inter

    national contemporary art.

    He has been a Trustee of the National Self

    Portrait Collection, Limerick since 1990 and

    was a member of the Cultural Relations

    Committee of the Department of Foreign Affairs

    from 1981-1995. In 1990 he was awarded the

    Lord Mayor of Dublin's Millennium Medal. In

    1999 he was elected Honorary Member of the

    RHA and awarded its gold medal. He was

    Chairman of the Contemporary Irish Art Society

    from 1990-2000, and was Chairman of the Arts Council from

    2000-2003. He is a member of the International Council of the

    Museum of Modern Art, New York, and was twice President of the

    Irish Exporter's Association. He is currently Art Adviser to the Office

    of Public Works. In this role, he advises on acquisitions, portrait

    commissions, exhibitions and art policy. He describes his involve

    ment: 'My aim as Art Adviser to the Office of Public Works is to

    secure the best possible works of modern Irish art for display in pub

    lic buildings, under the Government's Per Cent for Art Scheme. In

    pursuit of this objective, many prints, paintings and sculptures by

    recent graduates of the various Irish art colleges are purchased as

    well as key works by more established artists. The hope is that these

    modern works of art will improve the office environments of the many

    people who visit and work in these spaces, and encourage them in

    their enjoyment of art.'

    ing buildings and this brings its own challenges in

    terms of the display, security and care of art works. The

    advantage of housing art in public buildings is that

    99.9% of the art works are permanently on display,

    with only a small number of works in storage awaiting

    conservation or en route to a new location.

    The relationship between the client department and

    the Art Management Office is a crucial part of the

    administration process and is very important when art

    works are placed on permanent public display outside a

    OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION |

    9

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  • 'Public art creates a dialogue with a people, a time and a place. The Per Cent for Art Scheme gives the Irish public the opportunity to experience a vast range

    of contemporary art, borne out of capital construction

    projects, in their everyday life'

    10 I

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

    9 10

    gallery environment. Unlike a public gallery, the envi

    ronment is first and foremost concerned with the busi

    ness of the government department operating in the

    building; people are there primarily for a purpose other

    than viewing art. When the department takes owner

    ship of the art works and has pride in their display, the

    art works have found a good home and an interested

    audience. By the nature of its role, the OPW has limi

    tations on the types of art works it acquires -

    video,

    installation and performance-based art projects do not

    fit easily into office environments. Yet when these

    media can be incorporated into a project, the Art

    Management Group is keen to do so. In the OPW's

    head office on St Stephen's Green, a poem by Paula

    Meehan is displayed alongside a sculpture by Marie

    Foley.3 Music has also been commissioned for Ardfert

    Cathedral and St Stephen's Green.4

    Working with staff in other government depart

    ments in placing art works within their buildings

    is a tremendously rewarding activity that the Art

    Management Office staff undertake on a regular basis.

    Each building project is unique in terms of its usage,

    architectural design, and per cent for art budget. Having

    the general public and staff engage with contemporary

    art and creating a lively debate when art works are

    installed is an integral part of the process. The National

    Guidelines state:

    'Public art creates a dialogue with a people, a time

    and a place. The Per Cent for Art Scheme gives the

    Irish public the opportunity to experience a vast range

    of contemporary art, borne out of capital construction

    projects, in their everyday life. In turn it provides a

    challenge and an opportunity to a wide range of artists

    to create work for public engagement and response'.5

    The OPW has the privilege of meeting this chal

    lenge in public building projects throughout Ireland. It

    continues to embrace the Scheme and constantly eval

    uates the best practice principles in relation to the com

    missioning and purchase of art works. Keenly aware of

    its responsibility for the care of art works created in the

    past, in the present and looking forward to the future,

    the OPW Art Management Group continues to work

    with artists, arts officers and gallery owners. Their

    commitment, talent and dedication to art make the

    challenge immensely satisfying.

    Jacquie Moore is Deputy Art Adviser and a member of the

    OPW's Art Management Group. She is currently researching a PhD

    in public art collections.

    7 Sean Keating

    An IRA Flying Column 1921

    oil on canvas

    190 x 223cm

    8 Darren Murray

    Chamonix, Mont

    Blanc, 2004

    oil on canvas

    154 x 186cm

    Image courtesy Kevin Kavanagh

    Gallery

    9 Patrick Collins

    Virgin River 1967

    oil on canvas

    72 x 89cm

    10 Louise Ward

    Si/7/ Life I

    mixed media on

    watercolour card

    88 x 66cm

    1 Published by the Department of Arts,

    Sport and Tourism and also available on

    www.gov.ie/arts-sport-tourism 2 Letter from Meta Hastings-Doyle, OPW

    to the Secretary, Department of Finance, dated 3 August 1978

    3 Six Sycamores by poet Paula Meehan

    in collaboration with sculptor Marie

    Foley. These works were commissioned

    in 2000 with per cent for art funding

    arising from a new link corridor

    between numbers 51 and 52 St

    Stephen's Green

    4 Fergus Johnston was commissioned to

    create a piece for Ardfert Cathedral in

    2000 and Benjamin Dwyer for the St

    Stephen's Green 125th anniversary cele

    brations in 2005

    5 Public Art: Per Cent for Art Scheme, General National Guidelines - 2004,

    pl6

    OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION |

    1 1

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    Article Contentsp. 6p. 7p. 8p. 9p. 10p. 11

    Issue Table of ContentsIrish Arts Review (2002-), Vol. 23, 175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works (2006), pp. 1-48Front MatterForeword [p. 1-1]OPW 175th Anniversary Edition [p. 2-2]The OPW a History of Service [pp. 3-5]Art of the State: Inheritance, Development, Legacy [pp. 6-11]Building for the Nation: Architectural Services at the OPW [pp. 12-17]Weaving Heaven and Earth [pp. 18-21]Preserving the Past [pp. 22-25]A Glittering Legacy [pp. 26-29]Conservation at OPW: Policy, Protection, Partnership [pp. 30-33]Cultural Collaborations [pp. 34-39]Engineering Success [pp. 40-41]Kilmainham Gaol: Confronting Change [pp. 42-45]Future Challenges for the Opw [pp. 46-48]Back Matter

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