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Artist slams treatment of her sculpture

February 6th, 2015 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

The Great Wall of Kinsale, photographed soon after its installation, before the add-ons

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By Siobhán Cronin and JJ Hurley

A WELL-RESPECTED Irish artist has blasted the treatment of her work by Kinsale’s local authority.

What they did to it in the past would be ‘illegal’ today, she claimed.

Eilis O’Connell, a Crawford College graduate, has since gone on to remarkable success: many of her biggest commissions are in the UK, including one at Canary Wharf, and another in Cardiff.

She has exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum and is a former member of the Arts Council, and a current member of both Aosdána and the prestigious RHA.

Reacting to news that councillors in Kinsale want her sculpture on the town’s pier ‘removed’, she launched a strong attack on its treatment since its installation in 1988.

At a recent meeting of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District area, Cllr Kevin Murphy asked for the piece – entitled ‘The Great Wall of Kinsale’ – to be moved.

In response, Eilis said that the sculpture was ‘destroyed a long time ago when the Kinsale UDC saw fit to alter the sculpture against my wishes.’

‘At that time,’ she added, ‘Ireland had not ratified the Berne Convention for the protection of Literary and Artistic Works, so, what they did back then in the late 80s would be illegal today.’

She said the sculpture had been adapted over the years to include ‘water features, stagnant ponds, railings and flower pots’ and all of these ‘contribute to its current look of denigration.’

She has also claimed that no significant maintenance has been carried out since the late eighties.

She said her artwork was a ‘simple minimal structure made of Corten steel’ which was painted against her advice and the advice of the Head of Sculpture Conservation at the Tate Gallery in London.

‘Would it not be more cost efficient and better for the environment to restore the sculpture to its original state minus the pond?’ she asked.

The changes made to this piece, against her will, were the subject of a show entitled ‘Rocky Road’ at the Crawford Gallery in Cork in 2012, which looked at public perception of artwork.

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