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'Public art belongs to the people - it shouldn't be destroyed', says Mayor

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The defaced statue of Dubliners legend Luke Kelly on Seville Place in Dublin after it was attacked by vandals. Photo: Gerry Mooney

The defaced statue of Dubliners legend Luke Kelly on Seville Place in Dublin after it was attacked by vandals. Photo: Gerry Mooney

The defaced statue of Dubliners legend Luke Kelly on Seville Place in Dublin after it was attacked by vandals. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Dublin's new Lord Mayor Hazel Chu has spoken of her sadness at recent attacks on public sculptures in the city.

Speaking at the launch of Sculpture Dublin - a €600,000 community initiative to create six pieces of public artwork around the capital - she cited the Luke Kelly statue in Dublin's docklands as a repeated target for vandals.

"I was sad to see it but also wondering how does it happen so many times," she said.

Frustrating

"Time and time again they've tried to ruin it and it's frustrating to see because someone has put so much effort into that artwork and it's enjoyed by the locality.

"So it's frustrating as well as disappointing.

"You wonder if people have too much time on their hands. I guess all of us have felt very cooped up over lockdown and maybe it's just frustration, maybe it's vandalism.

"But art shouldn't be destroyed on public property. It belongs to the people."

She said the pandemic had an effect on people's mental health as well as their physical health so to have the new sculpture project was "very timely" as it gave people an outlet and connected them with their localities.

Having restrictions on our movements made us all so much more appreciative of our green spaces and the importance of protecting and enhancing them, said the Green Party councillor.

"We all need to feed back in to our community and all need to celebrate artwork," Ms Chu said.

"We need visualisations about what can be done here so I think it's a great project.

"For too long art has been restrained to certain definitions. So it's lovely to see how the community can feed into it."

Terenure's Bushy Park and St Anne's Park in Raheny are among the six sites listed for new artwork.

More details are available on sculpturedublin.ie.

Ms Chu said she was settling in nicely as Lord Mayor.

However, as the city's first woman of colour in that role, she admitted that while most social media users had been very positive, there would always be a few trolls making racist comments.

"I've had so many overwhelmingly supportive messages and people have been so good," she said.

"Then you look through your feed and you go, 'Ugh' and see the usual stuff.

"Being different isn't bad. It's something to celebrate, not something to be worried or scared about. It's challenging those norms."