A renowned American artist is considering issuing legal proceedings against Louth County Council after an image that appears to be based on his artwork has been included in the new World War 1 memorial in Dundalk.
The image of soldiers leaving for the battlefield is very similar to that in a major commission by sculptor Sabin Howard for the National War Memorial which is due to be erected in Washington DC in 2024. When completed, the 65-foot-long bas relief will be the largest bronze sculpture of its kind in the world.
Howard, who has been working on the sculpture since August 2019, said he was ‘shocked’ that it appears that the image which forms the centrepiece of the Dundalk War Memorial has been used without his permission.
The etching on the large granite stone features eleven figures departing for war and bears a remarkable resemblance to the epic piece called ‘A Soldier’s Journey’ being created for the $44million war memorial in Pershing Park, just one block from the White House.
This central piece is flanked by two smaller stones with images of a single soldier, while the names of local men who perished during the First World War are carved on two other pieces of granite.
The sculptor’s wife, Traci L. Slatton, said that her husband “is concerned about what appears to be a clear copyright violation of the US WWI monument he designed and was commissioned to sculpt. Sabin Howard intends to address all copyright violations through legal remedies if need be.”
The Dundalk memorial erected on a green area outside the Garda Station last week differs considerably from what had been envisaged when the idea of a World War 1 memorial was first mooted in 2014 by the then Dundalk Town Council.
A cross-party committee of councillors, local historians and retired army personnel had suggested that the memorial take the form of a Celtic Cross and that the use of military imagery be avoided. They had also sought that a full list of all those who died during the First World War, including those lost at sea, be included, along with their rank and profession. The committee was not involved in the commissioning process for the memorial that has been erected.
Funding for the project, which was estimated to be in the region of €40,000, came from The EU PEACE IV Programme and Louth County Council’s own resources, with the local authority seeking tenders for the memorial in March 2021.
The tender documents stated that “The monument will be of a granite stone, polished on all elevations. The overall height of the monument will be 3000 mm, and will include a granite plinth for resting memorial wreaths.”
It added that “The design of the stone will be confirmed in due course.”
The document also outlined that Council was “seeking a competent organisation to deliver the War Memorial and associated works through to completion. The Scope of Works will include the following: The design of the Memorial and immediate surroundings. Wheelchair access to the monument will form part of the design proposals.”
Reaction on social media to the new memorial is divided, mostly on the appropriateness or otherwise of commemorating those who fought in the British Army. Several commentators have described the memorial as “a beautiful tribute” and ‘”a stunning memorial”.
The memorial is due to be officially unveiled on Tuesday May 31st.