Fer­ry­bank’s steel public art re­place­ment

Wexford People - - NEWS - By MARIA PEP­PER

The iconic Michael Warren sculp­ture in Fer­ry­bank which over­looks Wex­ford es­tu­ary and bridge, has been re­placed by Wex­ford County Coun­cil with an up­graded ver­sion made from corten steel in or­der to pre­serve an im­por­tant piece of public art for the fu­ture.

The sub­sti­tu­tion which took place re­cently will also guar­an­tee the legacy of Mr. Warren, a Wex­ford artist based in Bal­ly­canew, whose pro­lific ca­reer span­ning nearly 40 years, has earned him a na­tional and in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion.

Due to on­go­ing water dam­age and con­cerns about public safety, the orig­i­nal wooden sculp­ture ‘De-cre­ation (V1)’ which had been in place for 31 years, was in need of a lengthy restora­tion process which would have re­quired its re­moval for a year.

The piece was leak­ing and the wood was rot­ting, giv­ing rise to health and safety con­cerns, and the nec­es­sary re­pairs would have been ex­ten­sive.

Af­ter in­spect­ing the dam­age and con­sult­ing with site engi­neers and the county Arts Of­fice, the artist pro­posed the idea of a corten steel replica to Wex­ford County Coun­cil last year.

The project took a year of plan­ning and the new steel ver­sion was fab­ri­cated in Ark­low be­fore Christ­mas and in­stalled in Fer­ry­bank in April af­ter engi­neers ex­ca­vated and pre­pared the site. The sculp­ture which is still sur­rounded by scaf­fold­ing, will be pub­licly un­cov­ered within the next few weeks af­ter the area around it has been land­scaped.

The orig­i­nal sculp­ture has been taken away to be re-pur­posed by the artist who se­lected Fer­ry­bank as the ideal site back in 1987 when it was first in­stalled.

The cost of the re­place­ment has been funded from a few years worth of the Coun­cil’s bud­get for the main­te­nance of public art projects in the county, many of which are out­side and open to the ele­ments. Corten steel also known as weath­er­ing steel elim­i­nates the need for paint­ing and forms a sta­ble rust-like ap­pear­ance af­ter sev­eral years of ex­po­sure to weather.

Mayor of Wex­ford Jim Moore said he was very pleased to see this iconic piece

of public art re-in­stalled in the beau­ti­ful set­ting of Fer­ry­bank over­look­ing the town.

‘Michael Warren is an artist of in­ter­na­tional sig­nif­i­cance and Wex­ford County Coun­cil recog­nises the im­por­tance of preserving his legacy, par­tic­u­larly in his home county of Wex­ford’, he said.

County Arts Of­fi­cer Liz Burns said the re­place­ment is a beau­ti­ful ver­sion in Corten steel which will al­low many fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to en­joy the work of an im­por­tant County Wex­ford-born artist of in­ter­na­tional renown whose cel­e­brated sculp­tures can be seen all over Ire­land and the world in col­lec­tions, mu­se­ums, pri­vate homes and public spa­ces.

‘The ques­tion of what con­sti­tutes the life span of a ‘per­ma­nent’ piece of public art is an in­ter­est­ing one and is open to mul­ti­ple in­ter­pre­ta­tions. We in Wex­ford County Coun­cil felt it was im­por­tant to hon­our and pre­serve the work of such an im­por­tant, in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed artist, par­tic­u­larly in his home county’, she said.

Michael Warren was born in Gorey in 1950 and stud­ied at Bath Academy of Art, Trin­ity Col­lege, Dublin and from 1971 to 1975 at the pres­ti­gious Ac­cademia di Br­era in Mi­lan.

He is renowned for site-spe­cific public art­works which can be seen lo­cally, na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally with a num­ber of very vis­i­ble works in Ire­land in­clud­ing the large, sweep­ing wood sculp­ture in front of the Dublin Civic Of­fices in Wood Quay, as well as an art work in UCD. Along with Roland Tal­lon, he cre­ated the much-loved a’tSo­lais (Mound of Light ), a memo­rial to the 1798 Re­bel­lion in Ou­lart. His largescale sculp­tures have pride of place in prom­i­nent lo­ca­tions around the world in­clud­ing the UK, France, Spain, Por­tu­gal, Morocco, USA, Sau­dia Ara­bia, Ja­pan, Tai­wan, Guadalupe and Ecuador. In ad­di­tion, his smaller works are in nu­mer­ous na­tional and in­ter­na­tional public and pri­vate art col­lec­tions.

The old (in­set right) and the new: Michael Warren’s up­graded ver­sion of his wooden sculp­ture at Fer­ry­bank is fab­ri­cated in steel.

Artist Michael Warren.

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