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The iconic Michael Warren sculpture in Ferrybank which overlooks Wexford estuary and bridge, has been replaced by Wexford County Council with an upgraded version made from corten steel in order to preserve an important piece of public art for the future.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