Cork's Shandon Street landmark to be all ‘buttered up’ in public art project

Artist Tom Doig with Helen O'Sullivan, with a scale model of the new public art project on Shandon Street in Cork.

A landmark building on Cork’s famous Shandon Street is to be covered in ‘butter wrappers’ as part of a striking public art project.

Scaffolding was erected yesterday around 62 Shandon Street, a four storey, double frontage end-of-terrace property next to the North Gate Bridge, which was built around 1810 and which houses The Friary Bar on the ground floor.

Facade repairs will be carried out over the coming days before artist Tom Doig and his team move on site to wrap the top three stories in 91-square metres of 90-gramme paper wrapping which displays butter wrappers bearing the names of Cork townlands and villages which produced butter over the last two centuries. New LED lighting will be installed before the artwork, titled ‘Flags of the Townland’, will be unveiled before the end of the month.

Butter was a very important part of Cork’s development as a merchant city. The Shandon Butter Exchange, which was developed in the 1700s, was the largest butter market in the world, exporting product all over the world.

Mr Doig, who is based in the city’s Sample Studios, said the artwork has been designed to visually celebrate the link between the Shandon quarter and the importance of butter to the life of Cork.

He said he hopes it will have an “immediate visual impact” which will evoke an association not just with the butter trade and the concept of co-operatives, but with a strong sense of place and time.

“The initial proposal was to create stencilled reproductions of the labels in the Shandon area, but was expanded into a proposal to wrap an entire building with the designs instead, folding them around architectural details and corners,” he said.

“Wrapping a building in printed paper like the traditional method for packaging butter is not such a stretch of the imagination.

“While Munster’s ‘butter roads’ trace a physical route from the outlying areas of butter production to the butter market at the heart of Cork’s historical trade areas, the prominent display of these wrappers in an urban setting could be said to evoke in the minds of many Corkonians a link between modern urban life and a shared rural past.”

The project is being funded by Cork City Council under its Cork City Centre Action Plan 2016-2017 and follows the Singer’s Corner project on Washington Street which was erected in 2014.

Singer’s Corner
Singer’s Corner

Helen O’Sullivan, a project officer in the council’s planning policy section, who oversaw both projects, said as with the Singer’s Corner project, Mr Doig’s project will be temporary, and will be removed late next year.

“This is to ensure that the work is erected only while it is in a good condition and doesn’t deteriorate in the public domain,” she said.

She said she hopes the two public art projects will show that the council appreciates the importance of public art in a public domain and the impact it has on its viewing audience.


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