Controversial Dún Laoghaire sculpture returned to artist

Gateway, by Michael Warren, swapped for another work following calls for its removal

 

A controversial sculpture which occupied a prominent site in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, has been returned to the artist in exchange for an alternative work.

Gateway, a 20ft-high, eight-tonne sculpture, was returned to Wexford artist Michael Warren last week.

It was commissioned by developer Eddie Sweeny under the Per Cent for Art Scheme, and erected in 2002 close to the Pavilion retail and theatre complex and Dún Laoghaire’s 19th-century county hall.

Made from corten steel, which gives a rough orange appearance after slow oxidisation, the sculpture had been the subject of controversy from the beginning.

When it was first installed, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council invited Warren, a member of Aosdána, to address councillors on the piece.

Though initially satisfied by the artist’s explanation of his work, councillors became unhappy again following local elections and there were further calls for its removal.

It was removed in 2009 and placed in storage pending the completion of redevelopment works in the area.

While the council said at the time that the sculpture would be re-erected once work was complete, it never reappeared.

Unhappy

Councillors in Dún Laoghaire agreed to the swap at a meeting in December 2013, though some were unhappy about the move.

Now retired councillor Donal Marren (Fine Gael) labelled it a gross insult to the artist, who he said was “the leading modern sculptor in Ireland”.

A new home has now been found for Gateway in the UK.

In a straight swap, the artist has given the council a bronze work entitled Angel Negro.

A site for the new work is under consideration and it may be erected in the vicinity of the county’s newest library, dlr LexIcon.

When contacted by The Irish Times, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council declined to comment on the exchange.