This project is funded by the Per Cent for Art scheme. This is a government initiative, first introduced in 1978, whereby 1% of the cost of any publicly funded capital, infrastructural and building development can be allocated to the commissioning of a work of art.
Through a public tendering process, artist Sunny Wieler was awarded the commission to create an interactive sculpture based on the theme of St. Andrew.
It was envisaged by the school that the outdoor space consist of a relaxed, informal seating arrangement that should accommodate up to 32 children and a teacher.
St. Andrew’s N.S. asked that the installation reflect the school’s Church of Ireland ethos, in particular the patron saint of the school ‘St. Andrew’. As St. Andrew was a fisherman they wished to incorporate the theme of the sea. With some of the following elements incorporated in the work:
o Sea vessels, boats, waves, fish
o The concept of journeys
The school was also keen to accommodate a contribution from the students and an opportunity to liaise with the artist to incorporate student participation.
The design of this outdoor space is based on the theme of St. Andrew, represented in fluid motions of waves, currents and sails.
The project is titled ‘Fishers of Knowledge’ which is a play on the phrase “fishers of men” which was spoken by Jesus when He was calling two of His disciples, Simon and Andrew, to follow Him.
From a distance, the dominant feature of the outdoor space is the two large standing stone slabs which reach a height of almost 3 meters. These stone slabs represent the sails of a ship and stand behind the teacher’s stone chair.
Spanning out on either side of the teacher’s chair are two tiers of stone walls. The stonework in these walls is flowing and spiralling, representing waves. Seasonal flowers are planted between and behind these walls to encourage wildlife into the area and give the students a greater sense of being in nature.
A dominant feature of the floor is the two bands of natural stone pebble and tile mosaic which represent fish travelling up water currents. The remainder of the flooring is compacted granite dust that creates a soft porous surface.
Staying with the theme, 6 fluid shaped benches comfortably seat 32 students. The 6 benches within the outdoor space are designed so that the tops can be brought indoors into the classroom so that they can be designed and mosaiced by students. Under the guidance of the artist, the students will mosaic the bench top with the assistance and supervision of their teachers.
The Building Process.
STAGE 1 Creating the pebble mosaics
Inspired by the pebbles in our rivers and oceans, A dominant feature of the floor is the two bands of natural stone pebble and tile mosaic which represent fish travelling up water currents.
The pebble mosaics in the creative space are laid in fluid patterns to suggest fluid motion and water currents. Made in the artist’s studio in Waterford, they had to be made in manageable pieces so that they could be transported the 166km to Dublin. The mosaics weighing more than 3 ton (3000 kg) in total and are made up of 28 individual pieces. Each of the 28 pieces took the artist a day to assemble and would have to be left cure for a week before being hard enough to move. Each section was carefully numbered so that they could easily be reassembles on site like a giant stone jigsaw.
STAGE 2 Site work
In early August or 2018 while the students were on their summer holidays, the artist began work on site at the school transferring his concept designs onto the ground. Over the following few months he would realise his vision into reality.
Designing and making the mosaic benches.
A competition was held in the school for the students to design the bench tops keeping in the theme of St. Andrew and the ocean. Each year got to design one of the 6 benches. There were many fantastic designs. Across are the winning designs that went on to be transferred onto the beautifully handcrafted timber benches, created by carpenter, Frank Wieler of Wieler Woodwork.
The Finished Space
A big thank you to everyone on the school’s public art committee and indeed all the staff at the school who helped out in different ways.
Thank to by brother Frank Wieler for creating the beautiful timber benches and to Karl Kennedy for his help in the final days of the project to help get it over the line.
But most of all, thank you to all the students who worked on the art projects and time capsule and those who came over to give their critique or just to say hello. It was a pleasure to spend time amongst them all and to create this special place for them and for the students who come after them.
Wishing them all much enjoyment in their new outdoor creative space.