Urban Mirror 8
Urban Mirror 8

Urban Sculpture Trail Launched in Cork

A unique urban sculpture trail consisting of five public artworks was launched in Cork recently, making this the single biggest investment in public art in the city.

A map of the sculpture project in Cork.

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The five sculptures that make up Island City, Cork’s Urban Sculpture Trail, are located on Carey's Lane, Cook Street, the Exchange Building on the intersection of Princes Street and Oliver Plunkett Street, Cornmarket Street (Coal Quay), and Triskel Christchurch.

a large white building near the water urban sculpture trail
Cork's City Hall. Photo courtesy Failte Ireland.

The hope is that the new addition to the city’s landscape will encourage locals and tourists to pause, to look up and to appreciate the beauty, character, and heritage of Ireland’s second-largest city.

The sculptures reveal prehistoric artefacts brought to life in 3D, a large crafted table where people can eat, play and socialize, a lane-length overhead sculptural piece that responds to the shifting shape of the city, an art nouveau crafted lamppost that encourages people to look up and explore the architecture as they navigate through the city, and a light installation that highlights stories of Cork's past, present, and sustainable future.

Here is more information on the individual sculptures.

Sentinels [flew through the ages in the shape of birds] on Carey's Lane 
Sentinels is a lane-length sculptural piece created by artist Niamh McCann and influenced by the architecture, geography, and migratory history of the street, a nod to the old and the new.

a bird sitting on top of a gold bar over a street urban sculpture trail
The Sentinels sculpture in Cork City. Photo: Clare Keogh.

The work, which is made with sustainable materials, is fixed above head height and held by the simple image of a seagull, perched atop a neon strip, sentinel-like. Intriguing and playful, the work animates the lane and responds to the shifting shape of the city.

Boom Nouveau on Cook Street
Boom Nouveau mimics the form of a tangible everyday urban street feature – the lamppost. Created by the Wicklow-based art collaboration Forerunner, the name refers to the rupture of the artwork emerging from the ground, with a nod to the influence of art nouveau craftsmanship.

The Boom Nouveau sculpture in Cork City. Photo: Clare Keogh.

The sculpture, which is intended to make people look up as opposed to rushing through city streets, is made of familiar building materials together with hand-blown glass and cast bronze.


The Face Cup at The Exchange Building, Princes Street/Oliver Plunkett Street
The Face Cup, created by Fiona Mulholland, is a celebration of Cork's rich prehistoric heritage. The large sculptural relief is based on a collection of exceptional Bronze Age ceramic artifacts from 3,800 years old excavated by Cork archaeologists.

The Face Cup sculpture in Cork City. Photo: Clare Keogh.

Coined a museum for an outdoor space, the artwork, made of styrofoam and fiberglass and painted in gold, is also considered a testament to the rich history of the area.

Urban Mirror on Cornmarket Street (Coal Quay)
Urban Mirror is a beautifully crafted large table with an atmospheric globe light that provides a sculptural pavilion in a cultural corner of the city center, giving off a warming glow effect when the sun sets.

The Urban Mirror sculpture, part of the Island City Urban Sculpture Trail initiative. Photo: Clare Keogh.

A space intended to be used by the public to talk, eat, play and interact, it was inspired by the street's vibrant history as a marketplace. Made of durable and playful stainless steel, the freeform table, created by the Plattenbaustudio, can seat up to 50 people.

Tempus Futurum at Triskel Christchurch
Tempus Futurum” is a unique light installation on Triskel Christchurch that illuminates the stories of Cork's past, present, and sustainable future.

The Tempus Futurm sculpture. Photo Clare Keogh.

The sculpture, created by Brian Kenny, echoes the adage: “A society thrives when elders plant trees under whose shade they'll never rest.”

Scenes on the sculpture link human actions to nature's fate, while 50 children envision the building's future, sparking hope.

The interactive finale reflects the importance of sustainability and is also a reflection of the city's growth, reminding visitors of the importance of today's impact on tomorrow's landscapes.

More information on Island City and how to follow the trail can be found on the Island City website or by following the initiative on Instagram.

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