West Cork Arts Centre moves into new €3.57m building

Artist Dennis McNulty used Kate Bush lyrics to create permanent art piece for space

The new €3.57m West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen. Photograph: West Cork Arts Centre

The new €3.57m West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen. Photograph: West Cork Arts Centre


Lyrics from the Kate Bush classic Running up that Hill form part of the inaugural exhibit at Ireland’s newest art centre. Over the past 10 days, the West Cork Arts Centre moved from a poky 1,000 sq ft premises to a towering 10,000 sq ft multi-gallery edifice in the centre of Skibbereen.

The €3.57 million building, which caused plenty of local controversy during construction, was handed over by builders MMD last month. Clad in corten steel, it weathers in the elements, giving it a rust finish that has not been to everyone’s taste.

Artist Dennis McNulty took a 30-year-old song and used the lyrics to form a piece of art that gives the new building a voice. His piece, Running up that Building, features reflective plasterboard, requiring the viewer to look through a narrow opening, where they must pause and wait for the words “Tell me we both matter don’t we” to appear in digital red lettering.

“It’s as if the building is talking, an interaction with the viewer,” WCAC director Ann Davoren explained.

The WCAC was first established in 1985 - the year Bush released the song.

President Michael D Higgins is due to officially open the new centre in early summer, but the history of this brand new build stretches back 20 years.

It began as an idea and morphed into a project, with €1.4 million in funding secured initially from Cork County Council. A further €1.5 million was secured from the Department of Arts, along with €100,000 from the Bollingers, a philanthropist couple with a holiday home in Schull.

Staff and supporters fundraised the shortfall, but the project was very nearly levelled before it ever got underway, after two construction companies selected as part of the tendering process went into liquidation in 2010.

“It was devastating. This was after several years working through the process and it had failed. We had spent a lot of money in the process. And there was no building,” Ms Davoren said.

Now, the impressive structure is finished and fully paid for. It boasts two galleries, three artist in residence studios, a dance, performance, lecture and film space, a soon to open cafe and courtyard and 360 degree views across the rooftops of Skibbereen.

The inaugural exhibition ‘Fourth Space’ opens on Saturday, January 31st.