Two colossal new pieces of roadside art are coming to Laois, one all the way from the UK.
The sculptures were commissioned by Laois County Council at a cost of €55,000 each, paid through the percentage for art scheme, and are to be placed on the new Castletown to Nenagh stretch of the N7, and on the M7 between Portlaoise and Castletown.
An open competition was held to find suitable sculptures for the locations, and work is already underway on both pieces, with the stone sculpture on deadline for completion in October. Yorkshire stone sculptor MIchael Disley, who has pieces in Dublin and Tipperary, is carving the four metre tall stone sculpture, titled ‘Dandelion’ at his UK studio, to be transported when complete.
It depicts a figure blowing at a relief carving of a dandelion clock, signifying both the scattered direction of journeys, and the rich history associated with the N7 stretch of road, where several archeological digs took place during construction.
The second piece will be a seven metre tall conical steel sculpture, transforming into a tree branch as it rises up, designed by Limerick artist Tom Fitzgerald.
Laois Arts Officer Muireann Ni Chonaill reports a delay on this sculpture, which is titled ‘Seedsong’.
“There are difficulties with it, but we are on track for the Nenagh road piece,” she said.
Ms Chonaill is not concerned about metal thieves eyeing the steel sculpture.
“It is not in precious metals, like bronze, so we don’t have any worries on that,” she said.
Cllr James Deegan believes local artists and materials should have been favoured for the works.
“I’m sure there are people in Ireland who would do every bit as good work, local artists should get first refusal. As far as possible, we should be using local materials to reflect our ethos, such as limestone, fireclay or Clonaslee stone, rather than importing in stone,” he said.
Cllr Deegan has called for an upgrade of the stacked turfmound, on the Togher roundabout.
“It’s gone a bit dilapidated, I don’t think it was ever meant to be permanent, it was built by a Bord na Mona landscaper in 1995, and it has half fallen down now. There’s no fear of it being stolen anyhow,” he said.