Pier artwork ignites debate in Dingle

A PIECE OF public art commissioned by Kerry County Council and recently installed near the pier has sparked intense local debate.

Sea-Form, a sculpture by Killarney artist Joe Neeson, was commissioned by Kerry County Council under the Per Cent for Art Scheme - a government funded programme whereby an additional fund of up to one per cent of the cost of a publicly-funded infrastructure or building can be applied for to commission public works of art.

The budget for the pier artwork was €48,500 and much debate in Dingle at the minute centred on whether public money should be spent on large scale art projects in a time of austerity.

The Kerryman gauged the reaction of a number of people on the issue and many said they would prefer to see the money be used for something else at a time when emigration and unemployment is prevalent in rural coastal areas such as West Kerry. Other said they would prefer to see the money spent on improving local infrastructure, in particular local roads and footpaths.

One lady said, " ... they moan about not having any money and then punish the people with cuts." A young woman expressed her dismay about the positioning of the artwork, feeling it obstructs the view of the harbour.

A middle aged man said that with the septic tank charges, the household charges and now the property tax many householders have had to fork out this year and "serious questions should be asked about how our county councils and government decide to spend our taxes".

However, others welcome the Sea-Form, with one young man saying "such a creative work adds to the aesthetic quality of the area".

A woman in her 30s commented that "good art always seems to create extreme views; the Spire in Dublin was hated initially, people don't like change and then it becomes everyday. I'd like to see what people think about it in a year."

"Dingle is lucky to get such a wonderful piece of art and a tourist industry that will appreciate it," another young man added.

A spokesman for Kerry County Council explained that the Dingle commission is funded by the Per Cent for Art scheme which is claimed over a number of years through their capital programme of new housing schemes in the Dingle area.

And while some may feel the budget of €48,500 could be better spent on local amenities and infrastructure, the council spokesperson added that funding under the scheme is "ring-fenced" and is "only available for artworks and not for any other purpose such as an architectural improvement or design feature or landscaping etc."

"In relation to the sculpture itself, it would have gone through the standard process whereby a public call was put out for expressions of interest from artists and following this a panel of artists was put together," said the spokesperson. "Their submissions would have been adjudicated by a panel, which included staff from the Housing Department of Kerry County Council and external artistic experts."

"In this case, the location was chosen through a combination of discussion with the artist, the area office in Dingle and the Housing Department. A presentation was made to the elected members as well and all were broadly in favour of the location and the sculpture."

"Due to its obvious link with the sea it was felt it was a suitable location where a large number of people could see it."


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