Artist: Maurice Harron
Title: Saints and Scholars
Location: Tullamore Co. Offaly - Northern side of the Tullamore N52 By-Pass.
Commissioning Body:- Offaly County Council Arts Office and NRA Per Cent for Art Scheme
Project Dates: November 2008 - October 2009
Project Budget: €85,000
Type of Commission: Primarily Open Competition for proposals, then shortlisted candidates prepared submission and Marquette.
Project Partners: Offaly County Council and National Roads Authority
Description:. The commission comprises of four 25ft Steel figurines placed on elevated sites along the N52 By-Pass. Each figurine holds a symbol of the world of learning and sanctity that are representative of the monastic settlements of Durrow and Clonmacnoise. One holds a book, one holds a chalice, one a staff and one throws aloft a flock of birds or souls.
Saints and Scholars Article
Saints and Scholars:- Interview with Artist
In October 2009 An Taoiseach, Mr Brian Cowen, T.D. opened the eagerly awaited N52 Tullamore By Pass. Standing at the northern end of the new by pass are four prominent 25 foot steel figurines created by artist Maurice Harron.
Each figurine holds a symbol of the world of learning and sanctity that are representative of the monastic settlements of Durrow and Clonmacnoise. One holds a book, one holds a chalice, one a staff and one throws aloft a flock of birds or souls.
This per cent for art scheme was undertaken and part funded by Offaly County Council. It was important from the beginning that the public was involved in choosing their landmark, therefore short listed proposals for the scheme were placed on show for the public's comment. Half of those who commented chose the proposal by Maurice Harron.
In a brief interview, Maurice Harron outlined where his inspiration for the proposal came from "The location of the site was very dramatic, it had four hills and also with it's proximity to the ancient place of learning of Clomacnoise I wished to honor that place. The semi abstract designs on the sculptures are inspired by the design patterns of the ancient manuscripts like the Book of Durrow".
When asked how he hoped the public would perceive his work Maurice stated, "I hope people like it, I hope they think it enhances the environment and becomes a landmark and an emblem of the locality which brings back awareness of their great heritage"
Maurice went on to describe the processes and new technology used in creating the steel sculptures. "They were constructed in the city of Derry, we hired a large building with over head lifting gear, I had two assistants Kieran Moore and Neill Gormley. We used computer controlled design for the patterns and a laser cutter through the company Inishowen Engineering, we also used tig welding and air plasma cutters".
Maurice Harron was born in Derry, Northern Ireland and studied at Ulster College of Art & Design. His artistic career has been extensive and his works are showcased in public locations throughout Europe, many of his sculptures reflect the cultural, social and historical identities of the place where they stand. The four sculptures on the N52 By-Pass are particularly representative of this.
Maurice's last statement was that "Although the subject is historical the work is modern, the stainless steel was chosen to reflect this and react with the rays of the sun at different times during the day'.