Working under water


Continuing the Cork theme . . . Cork Corporation is developing a Public Art Commission for the Lee Tunnel, and the project is being managed by the National Sculpture Factory. The budget for the project is £150,000, the winning entry will be selected in an open competition which "aims to embrace visual arts in its widest form".

There are thematic parameters to the competition, however: "The commission aims to celebrate Cork, its rich cultural, economic, sporting and maritime history. It should reflect the Lee Tunnel project's scale and ambition. Issues such as a millennium may be addressed by the artist." It would be a brave artist who would tackle all those themes together - a mural of Sonia taking Olympic Gold at 30 perhaps? The environment itself surely poses more of a challenge, however. In fairness to the Corporation, it's not saying the tunnel will be an attractive environment. Instead, it stresses the benefits which it says will accrue to the city centre because of reduced traffic congestion. No, there's no getting away from the "tunnel factor" in a tunnel, and an art project which would enhance such a place would be imaginative indeed - particularly as it mustn't be a traffic hazard.

If you're an artist or a group of artists with the required imagination, the important thing is to register for a site visit with the National Sculpture Factory before Monday. The visits will take place at 2 p.m. on August 17th, 20th and 27th. There will be site notes available to those who can't attend. (An arrangement to accommodate international competitors, presumably.)

The selection panel for the competition is made up of: Jack Higgins, the city manager, or his nominee; Kevin Terry, the city engineer, or his nominee; Cllr. Joe O'Flynn, the lord mayor, or his nominee; the chairperson of Cork Corporation's Arts Committee; Vivien Lovell, Director of the Public Art Commissions Agency, Birmingham; the artist, Vong Phaophanit; and Sean O'Laoire of Murray O'Laoire Architects, Dublin, who was nominated by the Sculptors' Society of Ireland; and an Arts Council nominee. The Cork City arts officer and the project engineer will be invited to attend in an advisory capacity.

A maximum of six artists will be shortlisted for the project and will receive development money of £1,500 each.