175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works || Cultural Collaborations

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<ul><li><p>Irish Arts Review</p><p>Cultural CollaborationsAuthor(s): Marianne O'KaneSource: Irish Arts Review (2002-), Vol. 23, 175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works(2006), pp. 34-39Published by: Irish Arts ReviewStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25503516 .Accessed: 15/06/2014 01:25</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>Irish Arts Review is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Irish Arts Review(2002-).</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:25:32 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=iarhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/25503516?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>Aw ao. </p><p>At </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:25:32 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>49 </p><p>-v s </p><p>Cultura </p><p>Collaborations </p><p>The Per Cent for Art initiative is not unique to Ireland, but its creative and </p><p>effective employment here is remarkable, writes MARIANNE O'KANE </p><p>Throughout the last decade, Ireland's burgeoning economy has provided the perfect climate </p><p>for countrywide urban regeneration and infrastructural development. Improved road net </p><p>works and revised town planning have presented possibilities for creativity in the public </p><p>realm, evident in architecture, landscaping and site-specific public art. The evolution of </p><p>Ireland's emerging public art portfolio has been rapid in recent times through increased awareness and </p><p>integral provision in allocated budgets. The OPW, through its dedicated Art Management Group has </p><p>contributed significantly to this advancement. A popular contemporary misnomer, however, is that the </p><p>OPW is responsible for every per cent for art commission in the public sphere. On the contrary, it has </p><p>no involvement in the placement of the major sculptures of varying quality that punctuate the coun </p><p>try's arterial routes. As a rule, the jurisdiction of the OPW's architects, engineers and the Art </p><p>Management Group, is art placement specifically in conjunction with OPW Capital Projects, involv </p><p>ing construction, restoration and refurbishment of state buildings. </p><p>Remarkably, the OPW Art Management Group responsible for managing the commissioning and </p><p>purchasing of artworks under the Per Cent for Art Scheme, was established as recently as 1991. The </p><p>artistic achievements of this industrious collective </p><p>over the past fifteen years have been noteworthy. </p><p>Provision is accompanied by involvement of client </p><p>groups and personnel to ensure a sense of pride and </p><p>ownership of art incorporated. The experience of art </p><p>naturally extends beyond the oftentimes elitist </p><p>gallery setting to infiltrate garda stations, state labo </p><p>ratories, courthouses, and government departments. </p><p>The art becomes a source of interest, engagement </p><p>and debate. The Art Management Group was the </p><p>brainchild of the then Chairman, Barry Murphy, an </p><p>arts enthusiast, with the vision to establish an effec </p><p>tive channel for per cent for art commissioning. He </p><p>also ensured an outlet for public enjoyment and edi </p><p>fication in the annual art of the state exhibition, also </p><p>initiated in 1991. This features themed elements of </p><p>the state collection and tours nationally and often </p><p>i* M? </p><p>175 OPW </p><p>The Office of Public Works Oifig na nOibreacha Poibl? </p><p>1 Elke Weston </p><p>Image 2005 </p><p>glass installation </p><p>State Laboratory, </p><p>Celbridge, Co </p><p>Kildare </p><p>2 Eileen </p><p>MacDonagh </p><p>Incommunicado </p><p>1989 black granite, Dublin Castle </p><p>Conference Centre </p><p>OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION 35 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:25:32 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>3 Brian King Ogma Sun-Face 2003 gold leaf on etched </p><p>aluminium </p><p>National Library of Ireland, Kildare </p><p>Street, Dublin </p><p>4 Michael Quane </p><p>Killamey Depot, 2000 stone National </p><p>Monuments </p><p>5 Colm Brennan </p><p>Raon an Corr?in </p><p>(trace of the reaping hook), 2001 bronze </p><p>Turlough Park </p><p>Museum of Country Life, Co Mayo </p><p>internationally. The accompanying catalogue for this </p><p>initiative has been a crucial vehicle for profiling the </p><p>state's interest in the arts. This annual event acts as a </p><p>celebration of the fruits of per cent purchasing and </p><p>enables the general public to view artworks collectively </p><p>at a remove from state offices and departments. </p><p>Per cent for art is an interesting concept designed to </p><p>ensure arts provision in public projects. It commenced </p><p>in Ireland almost thirty years ago. According to OPW </p><p>Art Adviser, Pat Murphy, '[It was with] the visionary </p><p>per cent for art scheme [implemented] in 1978, where </p><p>by Government sought to encourage the arts in Ireland </p><p>by setting aside 1 % of the cost of all public construc </p><p>tion projects, to acquire works of art to adorn the new </p><p>buildings (there was an initial limit set at ?6,000, which </p><p>was later raised to ?12,000). The Art Management </p><p>Group brought shape and focus to this Government </p><p>policy.'1 In 2004, the General National Guidelines on </p><p>per cent for art were published and this superb publi </p><p>cation offers a concise explanation of the scheme, prof </p><p>fering cogent examples of a variety of projects. It is stat </p><p>ed: 'The Per Cent for Art Scheme gives the Irish pub lic the opportunity to experience a vast range of con </p><p>temporary art, borne out of capital construction proj </p><p>ects, in their everyday life. In turn it provides a chal </p><p>lenge and an opportunity to a wide range of artists </p><p>to create work for public engagement and response.'2 </p><p>m The first proper per cent for art commissions </p><p>would have been for Dublin Castle in 1987-88. In </p><p>art terms, the architecture and site-specific works in </p><p>the grounds of Dublin Castle are a visual delight. </p><p>The Per Cent for Art Scheme </p><p>gives the Irish public the </p><p>opportunity to experience a vast range of contemporary art, borne out of capital construction projects, in their everyday life </p><p>36 OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:25:32 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>CULTURAL COLLABORATIONS </p><p>One of the earliest commissions for the castle was </p><p>Eileen MacDonagh's Incommunicado of 1989. This work </p><p>consists of two sculpted black monoliths, sited in an </p><p>outdoor pool (Fig 2). This semi-abstract creation is equal </p><p>ly effective now over fifteen years after it was conceived. </p><p>Major integral artworks commissioned under the per </p><p>cent scheme include works by Rachel Joynt. One is a </p><p>steel, copper plate and blue glass weathervane that marks </p><p>the Clock Tower apex of the Chester Beatty Library. </p><p>Plumb Line by Vivienne Roche was commissioned in </p><p>1995 for the Ship Street Range entrance building (Fig </p><p>6). This monumental sculpture discretely counterpoints </p><p>its surroundings due to the materials and colours </p><p>employed. The castle's portfolio also boasts a range of </p><p>exquisite applied art commissions by leading artists </p><p>such as Kathy Prendergast and Killian Schurmann. </p><p>These, however, were not per cent commissions but </p><p>were instead secured through the main contract. </p><p>The policy of per cent for art is not particular to </p><p>Ireland, and indeed when you consider application of </p><p>the scheme here in contrast to American provision </p><p>through per cent pioneers such as Seattle, the Irish are </p><p>operating on a much smaller scale. It is, however, the </p><p>creative and effective employment of limited funds that </p><p>distinguish this country's approach to the initiative. </p><p>Assistant Principal Architect at OPW Angela Rolfe, with responsibility for individual commissions, high </p><p>lights: 'The funding is relatively modest when com </p><p>pared with the US and Europe, therefore the scheme </p><p>tends to attract younger emerging artists. As a publicly </p><p>funded scheme it has been an excellent training ground </p><p>for organisations and artists alike; and the public art </p><p>has developed in range and quality. However there is </p><p>no "premier league" or first division to move into.'3 </p><p>According to the Chairman of the OPW and the Art </p><p>Management Group, Sean Benton, it is due in no small </p><p>part to the general public's receptiveness to art that the </p><p>OPW has achieved successful appreciation of art in </p><p>public buildings. 'Increased visual awareness and </p><p>design consciousness in Ireland has ensured that there </p><p>is a strong demand for contemporary art from the </p><p>OPW client departments. A vibrant art market and the </p><p>success of the Irish art colleges in producing graduates </p><p>of high calibre have filled this demand.'4 The Art </p><p>Management Group began operating almost exclusive </p><p>ly in visual arts. In recent years however, through expe </p><p>rience and further consolidation of the per cent </p><p>scheme, other art forms have been employed, often in </p><p>a collaborative capacity. The disciplines of literature, </p><p>drama, music, new media and installation have seen </p><p>integration in public buildings with fascinating results. </p><p>For Angela Rolfe it is important to represent a broader </p><p>Angela Rolfe Angela Rolfe is Assistant Principal Architect with the Office of </p><p>Public Works. She graduated from Bath University and University </p><p>College Dublin, and has been a Fellow of the RIAI since 2001. </p><p>She has had an interesting and varied career since joining the </p><p>OPW in 1980. Between 1981 and 1989 she was one of a team of </p><p>four architects responsible for the restoration and conference centre </p><p>at Dublin Castle. In 1990 she was one of a team of three architects </p><p>responsible for the conversion of the College of Science to the </p><p>Department of the Taoiseach. Other projects she has worked on </p><p>include the restoration of the Birr Telescope at Birr Castle Demesne, </p><p>Kiltartan Old National School, and the restoration and extension of </p><p>the Clock Tower Building, Dublin Castle for the Chester Beatty </p><p>Library. From 1996 to 2005 she was Senior </p><p>Architect, before being promoted to Assistant </p><p>Principal Architect. In 2000 she received an </p><p>RIAI award for her conversion of a former </p><p>penal church to the Michael Davitt Museum, </p><p>Straide and the RIAI Conservation Award for </p><p>the restoration of Joseph's Cottage in the </p><p>Wicklow Mountains National Park. </p><p>Since 1991, Angela Rolfe has been a </p><p>founder member of the OPW Art Management </p><p>Group, which is responsible for the manage </p><p>ment, maintenance, commissioning and pur </p><p>chase of artworks for the State under the Per </p><p>Cent for Art Scheme. She oversees approximately fifteen commis </p><p>sions a year, liaising with the client, short-listing artists, and chairing </p><p>the meeting of the selection panel. </p><p>Rolfe says: 'I have made it part of my job because I enjoy it. I like </p><p>getting involved with projects outside my own portfolio, understand </p><p>ing the work of my colleagues and giving them the opportunity to </p><p>work with artists. I relish "breaking new ground". The artist-in-resi </p><p>dence programme for an Asylum Seekers' Centre was a very difficult </p><p>but rewarding per cent for art commission. Unfortunately it wasn't </p><p>extended by the Department of Justice.' </p><p>Angela Rolfe is currently working on per cent for art commissions </p><p>for Collins Barracks, Cobh Custom House, Galway Civic Museum and </p><p>Tuliamore Courthouse. </p><p>range of the arts in commissions for cultural institu </p><p>tions such as historic buildings and monuments. </p><p>The collaborative commission Six Sycamores, demon </p><p>strates the successful synthesis and cohabitation of two </p><p>art forms in a given space. This site-specific artwork </p><p>was conceived to celebrate the link building between </p><p>51 and 52 St Stephen's Green. The commission dictat </p><p>ed that the selected poet Paula Meehan choose an artist </p><p>that she felt could best visually illustrate her featured </p><p>poem: Six Sycamores. Marie Foley was chosen and the </p><p>partnership produced a compelling narrative installa </p><p>OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION j </p><p>3 7 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 01:25:32 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>CULTURAL COLLABORATIONS </p><p>tion, which can be viewed from the ground floor of the </p><p>link. Meehan's lines are masterfully represented by the </p><p>series of complimentary wall sculptures by Foley. </p><p>Time slides slowly down the sash window </p><p>puddling in light on oaken hoards. The Green </p><p>is a great lung, exhaling breath on the pane </p><p>the seasons turn, sunset and moonset, the ebb </p><p>and flow The artist in turn has created a sculpture through </p><p>utilising the finest aspects of craftsmanship. To com </p><p>pliment Meehan's mysterious poem, Foley has con </p><p>ceived an equally enigmatic sculptural portrayal. A </p><p>series of six handcrafted long-handled shovels arranged </p><p>in a linear fashion are complimented on the opposite </p><p>side of the space by a series of six wooden taps, pro </p><p>truding from the wall high above six marble vessels </p><p>extending from the wall below. Without any textual </p><p>integration, Foley has provided an effective and </p><p>thought-provoking visualisation. </p><p>Collaboration is evident, not only in the final art </p><p>work, but also throughout the commissioning process </p><p>and this is its particular triumph. Operating firmly </p><p>with an architect's mindset, Angela Rolfe explains the </p><p>9 Collaboration is evident, not </p><p>only in the final artwork, but also </p><p>throughout the </p><p>commissioning process and this is its </p><p>particular triumph </p><p>synergy of this collective endeavour: 'The collaborative </p><p>process between the architect, engineer and artists can </p><p>be very rewarding. Many architects have commented </p><p>that they greatly enjoy discussing their building with </p><p>the commissioned artist and having an artist's view on </p><p>their work.' It is an added creative perspective that is </p><p>not normally available to architects (Figs 4</p></li><li>.I? </li></ul>