Artist seeks volunteers to participate in making an iconic artwork for Swords Cultural Quarter

Do you want to be Immortalised?

One of Ireland’s top artists is looking for volunteers from across Fingal to participate in making an iconic artwork which will be permanently displayed in a prominent site within the Swords Cultural Quarter.


John Byrne has been commissioned by Fingal County Council under the Infrastructure 2018 – 2021 Public Art Programme and is planning to create a giant photographic image, featuring a cross-section of people in Fingal, which will be printed and fired onto steel panels.


The image will reference two well-known historical European paintings for which Byrne will cast a broad range of Fingal residents. They will be immortalised in the artwork essentially engaged in a ‘tug of war’ between the two paintings representing the ‘pull’ between rural and urban life in the county and beyond.


Byrne wants to open-up this project to as many people as possible and is asking members of the public to send him a photograph of themselves along with details of their age and height and their email and phone contact details. The photograph can be a selfie or a clear head and shoulder shot. The photographs and other details required should be sent to [email protected] by February 21.


Byrne will then, with the assistance of the Fingal Arts Office, begin the process of selecting those who will eventually be included in the actual shoot which is scheduled for Swords in mid-July.


Cllr Paul Donnelly, Chair of the Community Development, Heritage, Culture and Creativity Strategic Policy Committee, said: “This is a unique opportunity for citizens from all over Fingal to get involved in a major arts project and those who are eventually chosen by the artist will be immortalised in an iconic artwork.”


Caroline Cowley, Public Art Co-ordinator with Fingal County Council’s Arts Office, said that the artist and the Council were looking for people of all ages and from all walks of life to participate.


“This is Public Art at its most Public. We are interested in all age groups and diverse communities from all over the county that will capture Fingal in time as it plans for a major cultural investment. We want everyone to be part of it,” said Ms Cowley.


Margaret Geraghty, Fingal County Council’s Director of Housing and Community, said: “Our vision and ambition is to create a distinct urban identity for Swords as the County town in Fingal, for citizens and visitors alike. This will include a major civic, cultural and public space at the heart of the County town, which also includes ongoing works at Swords Castle. The SCQ Civic and Cultural Centre will be at the core of the Swords Cultural Quarter and this exciting arts project is part of a wider on-going programme to engage the wider community to be part of the development of this new iconic quarter for Swords.”  


Byrne is regarded as an artist who reinterprets historical artworks into the contemporary. His previous work includes Misneach Ballymun which is an impressive equestrian monument to youth that he made by recasting an adaption of John Henry Foley’s Gough Memorial from the original in the grounds of Chillingham Castle in the UK and which was previously situated in the Phoenix Park.


He is also responsible for the famous ‘Dublin’s Last Supper’, taken from Leonardo Da Vinci’s version and located in the Italian Quarter in the city centre.


The volunteers who are eventually chosen to take part in the project will find themselves involved in a fascinating process. Byrne will work with a constructed set and costume designer with production assistants for his composition. Those chosen to be in the image will be styled and posed to fit his overall vision of the work which will be permanently displayed in the new Swords Cultural Quarter.