A 12 foot tall iron sculpture is being planned for the Kilnacourt roundabout in Portarlington, as part of the Dirty Old Towns project.
The sculpture which has not yet been priced, made or has planning permission, was designed by Port graphic artist Sylvia Dempsey, who has also designed the town’s new floral hanging basket brackets.
Ms Dempsey took on the project after being asked to help out the DOT campaign, which is transforming the town as part of the RTE series.
“I felt that no-one was pushing the town’s Hugenot heritage, so I designed a piece of modern art that represents a sheaf of sunflowers, which are indigenous to France. I am absolutely delighted to be giving something to the town, hopefully it will go down well and people will like it,” she said.
It is the first time for Ms Dempsey, proprietor of Graphic Workshop, to turn her hand to sculpture. The piece, chosen from six other designs, is to be made of long curved pieces of galvanised flat iron, with Hugenot leaves and silver balls. It has been modified in consultation with Laois County Council to allow for full vision around the roundabout for drivers, and easy access to the public streetlight it encircles. Tenders will soon be sought from local companies for its construction.
The original idea for a sculpture came from local auctioneer Matt Dunne, who has been working with the Dirty Old Town committee.
“At present this is a very drab location but a very busy roundabout as it is at the junction of 4 major inlets. It is the first roundabout that strangers meet coming into the town consequently I think we should make a first good impression. I think we have come up with a visually pleasing sculpture that is simple and yet enhances the light fixture in the centre.
“I am sure not everybody will like it and if somebody else can design something better the DOT committee are open to all suggestions,” he said.
Mr Dunne is hoping more pieces of art can be installed at the roundabout near the train station, and to the rear of Arlington House, which will soon feature grassy landscaping instead of ugly hoarding.
Portarlington has been transformed through the Dirty Old Towns programme, which airs in a fortnight’s time on RTE television, and is fronted by garden designer Diarmuid Gavin.
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