Kildare Arts Service : Public Art : Public Art Entries : Elements


Element 400x300

Element, Athy Fire Station

By John O’Connor

Element is placed on the façade of the Fire Station in Athy, South Kildare. 

History of the project
Over the last number of years, Athy and Naas have both opened purpose built fire stations.  A refurbishment of the fire station in Monasterevin has also taken place.  As part of the building programme, Kildare County Council engaged three Irish artists to further enhance each building by means of commissioning art works, through the Per Cent for Art Scheme.  The physical building and their particular location were considered when designing a brief for the commissions.  

This project began with a collaboration between the local community and the artist, John O'Connor.  A group of teenagers were asked to do designs, which could be used as part of the end design of the artwork for the fire station. A series of very interesting and diverse drawings were produced and the artist then set about incorporating them into the design of the wall sculpture.

Artist statement
The overall design is based on images and symbolism associated with the elements-Fire, Water and Air. The triangle is an ancient symbol for fire, so these two shapes form the main part of the design.  These symbols connected with flowing lines, which represent water (a symbol found at Newgrange and other ancient Irish sites).

The drawings were etched into the larger of the two stainless steel triangles and form a cross section of the work done by the local youths. The smaller triangle  contains the symbols .

About the artist
John O Connor .Dip. Fine Art (distinction) M.Phil.

Born in Cork, Ireland in 1956 and educated at Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork. 1974-79 and University of Ulster 1993-97.  O’Connor is a member of Sculptors Society of Ireland and National Sculpture Factory; exhibiting sculpture nationally and Internationally.  In September 2003 his work featured on Nationwide, RTE television.  He curated the 'Making Sense' a showcase of sculpture in Cork 1997 and was Artist in Residence at Waterford I.T. 1996.

O’Connor has been awarded 19 major Public Art commissions since 2000, including works in - Athy, Co. Kildare;  Athlone Library;  Kinlough Co. Leitrim; Tinryland, Co. Carlow; Tesco, Waterford; Granard, Co. Longford; Dublin (Ballyfermot & Navan Rd.);  Dunamaise Theatre & Fitzmaurice Place, Portlaoise;   Tramore, Co. Waterford; Bray Arts Centre;  Claremorris, Co. Mayo;  Ennis, Co. Clare; Bird Hill, Co .Tipperary;  Waterford I.T., Tipperary Institute, Thurles and Templemore, Co. Tipperary.

In addition to this, 20 proposals for Public Art Commissions have been short-listed in competitions held nationally and in N. Ireland.

Selected Exhibitions:
2003 Group show; West Wales Arts Centre, Fishguard . Idir Dha Shaol', 
2003  Solo show; Garter Lane Arts Centre Waterford
2002  Exhibition of New works; Dunamaise Arts Centre Portlaoise
2002  Black wind -White land, Living with Chernobyl; Civic Offices, Dublin
2001 Black wind -White land, Living with Chernobyl; United Nations Plaza, New York
2001 W.I.T. staff exhibition; Dungarvan Arts Centre & Garter Lane, Waterford.
2000  -Euro-fire in the land of Liege; Belgium
1998 'Gateway to Art' exhibition; Aer Rianta