Niamh McCann’s Sentinels Takes Flight as first sculpture in Cork’s Island City Trail launched

Sentinels [flew through the ages in the shape of birds], by Irish artist Niamh McCann on Carey’s Lane is the first of five contemporary sculptures to be installed around the city this year.

The sculptures are part of a unique cultural trail for locals and visitors intended to enhance the City  Centre by providing an experience that is arresting, intriguing and playful whilst illuminating the city’s unique heritage.

The temporary artworks will remain in situ for a period of five years.    

 Island City, which is a Cork City Council project funded to the tune of €670,000 by Fáilte Ireland, will animate the city and its heritage with public art, adding to the visitor experience. 

Four of the sculptures have already been commissioned after a competitive process, supported by the National Sculpture Factory, and the fifth will be chosen through an open call process, which will open in the coming weeks.

CMK29062023 REPRO FREE NO FEE Artist Niamh McCann speaking with the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Kieran McCarthy and Mary Houlihan, Failte Ireland. Picture: Clare Keogh Róisín Kivlehan

The first sculpture is ‘Sentinels’, by artist Niamh McCann. McCann, who now lives and practices in Dublin, studied in MTU Crawford College of Art and Design for a number of years, 1991-94.

The lane-length sculptural piece is influenced by the architecture, geography, and incidental features along the length of Carey’s lane in Cork City Centre.

The work is fixed above head height on the lane and is held by the simple image of a seagull, perched atop a neon strip, sentinel-like on either end of Carey’s Lane. The sculpture is intended to be intriguing and playful, animating the lane by day and by night – a work that is both intimate and dynamic and responds to the shifting shape of the city.

Contemporary Irish artist Niamh McCann who works in three-dimensional work, painting/drawing and installation, said, 

“I have a real fondness for Cork having spent formative years as a student and artist here and it’s my home away from home. I wanted to really get the true feeling of the city across in the piece. ‘Sentinels’ is a nod to the old and the new – from Cork City’s diverse and migratory history and its merchant and yachting tradition to its welcoming of new cultures and its urban adaptability. Using a combination of contemporary materials and craft, the installation explores the themes of travel and landscape and draws a line from one end of the lane to the other. I was also influenced by the inhabitants and geography of the lane such as the history of craft, culture and the presence of the Huguenot graveyard. I worked with sustainable materials that work well in outdoor settings such as bronze, jesmonite, and cedar wood. The red rope that links the pieces is a nod to the Rebel county’s traditional colour.”

Picture: Clare Keogh Róisín Kivlehan

Over the coming months the remaining four sculptures will be installed on the Exchange Building on Princes Street, Cook Street, The Coal Quay and Triskel Christchurch.

Island City, Cork’s Urban Sculpture Trail is a Cork City Council project funded by Fáilte Ireland under the Urban Animation Scheme, with commissioning support by National Sculpture Factory.

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