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Way Ahead art piece putting Mullingar on the map

Tuesday, 3rd December, 2013 12:06pm
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Way Ahead art piece putting Mullingar on the map

Cllr Peter Burke, cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council, cuts the ribbon to officially open the N4 The Downs Grade Separation road scheme on Monday November 25.

Way Ahead art piece putting Mullingar on the map

Cllr Peter Burke, cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council, cuts the ribbon to officially open the N4 The Downs Grade Separation road scheme on Monday November 25.

Westmeath County Council and the National Roads Authority officially launched the public art piece Way Ahead, on the N4 on November 25.

Created by Dublin native Bob Quinn, the sculpture was commissioned through the Per Cent for Art Scheme in the redevelopment of the N4.

Quinn has strong connections to Mullingar: “I lived in Mullingar for a number of years and felt it was so important to try incorporate as many of its wonderful traits as possible in the piece.

“The flowing hair of the figure becomes a graphic kaleidoscope seeking to capture some of the essence of what a vibrant, modern Mullingar and its surrounding areas have to offer. For example, its railway history, cathedral and religious history, music and entertainment, fishing, sailing, horse racing, water sports, farming and wildlife.

“In terms of make up and construction the piece was made of corten steel, a material which ensures the sculpture is both practical and maintenance free.”

Way Ahead is a semi-abstract graphic sculpture taking the form of the legendary female figure Aoibh and the children of Lir. It depicts Aoibh with her four children as departing swans. This creates a symbolic arm signalling to commuters proximity to Mullingar, and Lough Derravaragh, the home of the mythical tale of The Children of Lir.

The letters Mullingar are etched out of one vertical side of the figure, while graphically incorporated into the base of the sculpture is An Muileann gCearr, the mythological left handed mill from which the town gets its name.

A full index of the impressive range of public art sculptures in County Westmeath can be viewed in the library and arts section of Westmeath County Council’s website.

Westmeath arts officer Miriam Mulrennan says: “There is always a certain nervous excitement that surrounds the launch of a new piece of public art. Roadside sculptures, in particular, become permanent features of our journeys and our travels and in ways this makes them personal.

“We actively debate, discuss and dissect them – and by their very nature, these pieces make their way into the local discourse around ‘what is art’ and ‘what is this saying to me’.

“Way Ahead responded to a focused brief which set the artist the challenging task of contextualising proximity to Mullingar, its rich past and vibrant present – in managing to achieve all of this, the artist Bob Quinn is to be commended.”

Quinn acknowledged the support he received as he created the sculpture: “With so many people involved in the creative process, it is great to get to this point, and you just hope that you have delivered what the commission asked for. It’s a privilege to have been awarded this commission, from the early days of sketches and models right through to the intricate process of turning what you draw into a reality.

“The material used is corten steel, which changes colour through the seasons, and I am interested in how this makes the piece a living-changing entity throughout the year.”

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