THE PUBLIC are to be given an opportunity to decide where a controversial sculpture in south Co Dublin is to be relocated.
The Gateway sculpture, by Wexford artist Michael Warren, was temporarily removed last year by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to make way for road improvement works.
County manager Owen Keegan has told councillors its original location, between the town’s busy harbour and a retail complex, is no longer considered appropriate.
The 20-foot sculpture has attracted public debate since it was installed in 2002. Made from corten steel, which gives a rough orange appearance after slow oxidisation, it has been described variously as “fantastic”, “beautiful”, “ugly” and “rusty”.
It was commissioned by developer Eddie Sweeny under the Per Cent for Art Scheme, and erected close to the Pavilion retail and theatre complex and Dún Laoghaire’s 19th-century county hall.
When the sculpture was first installed, the council invited Mr Warren, a member of Aosdána, to address councillors on the piece. Though initially satisfied by the artist’s explanations of his work, following local elections councillors became unhappy again and there were further calls for the removal of the sculpture.
Last year, the council removed it temporarily to allow for local road improvements and the redesign of the area fronting the Pavilion complex.
In a report sent to councillors in advance of a meeting tonight, Mr Keegan said it was proposed to re-site the Gateway sculpture on a new traffic island further along Crofton Road.
“It is considered that the redeveloped area adjacent to the Pavilion complex will not constitute an appropriate location for the Gateway sculpture,” he said.
He said the proposed new location “stays true to the original vision of the artist, whose concept was to create a sculpture that would frame the entrance to Dún Laoghaire when viewed from Crofton Road”.
The surface of the sculpture is also to be restored to remove stains and marks and will have a stable, anti-graffiti seal.
Mr Keegan said Mr Warren had been consulted and had indicated he was open to the proposal. Given the sensitivity of the project and the public interest it would generate, he recommended the relocation be carried out under a Part 8 scheme. This will mean the plan will be put out for public consultation, and submissions will be accepted before councillors make a decision on the sculpture’s final location. Councillors will discuss the report at a local area meeting tonight.