Daily Archives: July 29, 2015

VAN July/August 2015: ‘Circulation & Exchange’ by Cliona Harmey


Cliona Harmey, Dublin Ships, installed February 2015, North Wall Quay, Dublin, photo by Ros Kavanagh


Installed during February this year, Dublin Ships is a temporary public artwork commissioned by Dublin City Council as part of the Dublin City Public Art Programme. The project was a response to an open call for public art under the theme ‘interaction and the city’. Dublin Ships was one of a series of commissions initiated by Dublin City Council Public Art Office under the Per Cent for Art scheme, with funding from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

My initial proposal was shortlisted and recommended for a research and development period with an award of €5,000. The research and development contract was drawn up in discussion with Public Art Manager Ruairí Ó Cuív. It listed all the elements that needed clarification and required additional research. As the projected costs of the commission were over the maximum limit in the call for proposals, it was also necessary for us to source some external funding for the commission.

At the time of submitting the original proposal, I had a clear idea of the general format of the work. It was to be a generative systems-based work, which displayed the name of the most recent ship in and out of Dublin Port in real time on a pair of screens in a public space. I had suggested a few different locations but not one definite site. The work itself grew out of a much smaller work, Dublin Port, which used the timetable from the Dublin Port Company website and was as part of the exhibition ‘Unbuilding’ at Mermaid, Bray (23 August – 17 October 2010), curated by Cliodhna Shaffrey, Rosie Lynch and Eilis Lavelle. (more…)

VAN July/August 2015: ‘Making Metal Sing’ David Lilburn Interviews Jane Murtagh


Jane Murtagh, Allium


David Lilburn: What is your attraction and fascination with metal as a material and when did it begin?
Jane Murtagh: The journey began when I was about 12 years old in Dublin. My father had an antique shop in Dawson Street and his love was Georgian silver. I was dispatched to collect the repairs from silversmithing workshops like Allwright & Marshall’s, where the beech benches were long and worn, full of containers of repousse and chasing tools, highly polished stakes and hammers. There was an engraver in a very old building off Georges street, three floors up; there was one light bulb, windows blacked out with brown paper, a radio with a coat hanger aerial and a crotchety old geezer behind the counter peering down at me. Never a smile! Fabulous.
Then there was Miss Zolkie who had a shop on Grafton Street where she re- strung pearls. She sat on a high stool behind the counter stringing pearls and chain smoking all day. These people fascinated me; their world was far more interesting than mine or school.
I loved growing up in Dublin, the moody slate greyness of it all, jet black iron railings around the squares, the municipal and national galleries, the forged gold in the National Museum and the Chester Beatty. At least once a month I skipped school and did a grand tour of the lot.
I studied fine art at Dun Laoghaire College of Art & Design from 1975 – 1979 and thought I would be a painter, but the moment I set foot into the metalwork room and smelt the metal and dust, that was it. The sculptor Niall O’Neill was my tutor. He got me to forge my own repousse tools, showed me how to make pitch and dragged me around to visit artists who were working in metal. One of these was John Behan and I think Edward Delaney was the other; they hadn’t a bean between them and looked like they survived on fags and tea. Niall was a very generous tutor, sharing knowledge with his infectious enthusiasm and wit. So too was Des Taaffe from the Dublin Silver Company. They are still there for me and I am very grateful having that support. (more…)