For Dublin

Artist Name(s) Frances Hegarty and Andrew Stones
Artwork title For Dublin
Context/Background The Nissan Art Project, sponsored by Nissan Ireland, was established in 1997 in association with the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The project was created through the desire to provide meaningful support and financial assistance for artists working in Ireland, and was one of the largest visual art sponsorships in Ireland at the time. It was initiated to offer artists working in any medium the opportunity to realise a new temporary artwork for the public domain – defined as any space or process to which the general public has ready unmediated access. The project was open to Irish artists working in Ireland or overseas and to non-Irish artists who had a defined involvement with Ireland.  In 1997 the first in the series of commissions was awarded to Irish-born artist Frances Hegarty and British installation artist Andrew Stones for their temporary public artwork ‘For Dublin’. Subsequent commissions included Dorothy Cross ‘Ghost Ship’ (1998), and Dan Shipsides ‘Bamboo Scaffolding’ (2000) at the Carlton Cinema, Dublin. From 2002 onwards, Nissan Art Project commissioned retrospective exhibitions by four Irish mid-career artists, shown at the RHA, Dublin: John Noel Smith (2002), Barrie Cooke (2003), Martin Gale (2004) and Stephen McKenna (2005).

For Dublin (1997) was a site-specific, temporary neon public artwork which presented a series of pink fluorescent quotations, extracted from Molly Bloom’s monologues in the last chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses. The neon works were installed on buildings in nine prominent sites throughout Dublin city centre, specially selected to counterpoint and add resonance to the texts.

For Dublin was based on the conceptual premise that through Molly Bloom’s intuitive stream of words, the reader can find a 'map' of the city, presented in terms of a humorous and ironic appraisal of its daily life. The work rendered the fictitious character’s words in the bold, seductive medium of neon – a form more often associated with the upfront declarations of modern advertising.

Each quotation began and ended with three dots... - a protocol deliberately employed by the artists to suggest that each text belonged in the “continuum of a larger whole”, both in Joyce's novel, the renowned 'stream of consciousness', and in the city itself.

The eight sites and nine neon signs:

Portico of the City Hall, at the head of Parliament Street:

...itd be much better for the world to be governed by the women in it...

Top of the Clarence Hotel, Wellington Quay:

...suppose our rooms at the hotel were beside each other and any fooling went on...

River Liffey walls, north bank, either side of the Halfpenny Bridge:

...O that awful deepdown torrent O...

...and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire...

D'Olier Street, opposite 'Guinness Time' clock/signage:

...I supposed he died of galloping drink ages ago the days like years...

Above Coral Bookmakers, Fleet Street:

...I hate an unlucky man...

Trinity College student residences:

...itll be a change the Lord knows to have an intelligent person to talk to...

American Express/Thomas Cook, overlooking College Green:

...a stranger to Dublin what place was it and so on about the monuments and he tired me out with statues..

Trinity College, facing onto Nassau Street:

...I wouldnt give a snap of my two fingers for all their learning...

*Extracts from Ulysses copyright © The Estate of James Joyce - used with permission.

Artists' statement from Irish Museum of Modern Art project publication:

The ancient books on display in Dublin's Trinity College Library are often cited as a convenient point of origin for Ireland's prodigious literary culture, yet the illuminated letters characteristic of many of them bear witness to a nascent visual culture linked perhaps to the notion of the 'word made light'. James Joyce's novel Ulysses was first published in Paris, 'City of Light' in 1922, and introduces the outsider/Dubliner Leopold Bloom, whose work as a seller of newspaper advertising space prefigures the colonisation of modern cities by commerce, and by its many forms of advertising. Within Leopold Bloom's fictitious lifetime the paraphernalia of advertising would include neon signs (which in fact made their first appearance around 1905): in the service of capital the word had, spectacularly, been made light.

Characters and motifs from well known works of literature often float free of their original form, escaping the context of their author's life and times, entering the broad stream of cultural discourse. This is certainly the case with the character of Molly Bloom, from Ulysses. Within a late 20th century culture shaped by feminist and post-feminist thinking, the singular interest in this character is a measure of her perceived status as the embodiment of many contemporary issues, for example: the authority of the female voice; female sexuality, femininity and power; the relationship of the female persona to language and cultural authority; the nature and status of women in the male imagination; and the 'proper place' of the feminine. For Dublin brings two artists' shared concern with issues, site and context into conjunction with a text more usually accessed via the tools of literary criticism.

There is a sense of interrogative irony in the work, which takes its cue partly from aspects of the Molly Bloom persona; and partly from the perennial struggle between the worlds of academia and tourism, each with its own definitions and uses for the idea of Joyce as 'heritage'. In Ulysses, the characters Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus undertake epic journeys across Dublin during the course of one day. Their movements, observations, conversations and imaginings intersect, famously constituing a 'map' of the city at the turn of the century. Many male voices are encountered in the Dublin of the novel, and thus the circulation of language and ideas, and of capital, along with the physical geography of the city, are given a gendered form appropriate to the sexual and cultural politics of Joyce's time. In contrast to the richly varied metropolitan world of her male counterparts Molly Bloom occupies a domestic domain associated with the body; with vanity, insecurity, inner desires and sexual motivations. For Dublin attempts to invest this iconic fiction - of the feminine concealed in the masculine city - with exaggerated visibility and authority. The work is an exercise in contextual play, and to begin with takes the fiction of 'Molly Bloom' as a reality in the cultural memory of the city, proceeding from the notion that her seemingly intuitive stream of unspoken words can also be seen to 'map' the physical geography of Dublin; in terms of a humourous and ironic appraisal of the activities of men.

Short extracts from Molly Bloom's monologue, rendered in intensely coloured cerise pink neon script are displayed in places referenced directly or obliquely to their apparent meaning; on buildings and in sites on the edge of the public domain. Within the methodology of the work, the city is perceived as townscape, where the serial vision of the viewer/reader moving through the streets constantly reveals and conceals buildings, views, and texts; where the viewer is the 'author' of a city which is also a narrative, in the manner of Joyce's Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. When encountered by chance, the nine neon texts which comprise the work are designed to punctuate the expected procession of this self-authored world; when sought out deliberately, the search incidentally reveals aspects of the city.

The neon texts remain lit continuously; a faint, constant presence in the daylight and noise of a busy city, growing more intensely visible towards the end of the day. This aspect of the work dovetails with the fact that the character of Molly is established early in the 'day' of Ulysses, but left behind as Leopold moves out into the city. For most of the novel Molly is constituted primarily via the consciousness of her active husband, until in the final chapter her subjectivity is asserted. Although remaining in bed, at the heart of the domestic domain, she becomes mentally hyperactive at a time when the life of the city and its male characters has been played out. Neon is a gas, and the manufacture of words in neon requires it to be trapped in glass and ignited by electrical charge: the result is a light-emitting text. There is a sense of the ethereal in this technological process, making it wholly appropriate as a means of transmitting the thoughts of a woman who never was (being the product of a man's synaptic activity); and of manifesting a female psyche which, although fictitious, exerts a seductive influence on both male and female imaginations.

Frances Hegarty & Andrew Stones 1997


Declan McGonagle, Director of the museum and Chair of the jury panel highlighted the range of submissions from which Hegarty and Stones’ ‘For Dublin’ project was selected.

"The work plays with the idea of the city space, the idea of Dublin and its buildings, the conventions of advertising and psychological fragments from a key character in Ulysses, whose words are already in the public domain. It makes the sort of engaging and challenging statement which was needed for the first project on this scale to be undertaken by the museum with the support of Nissan Ireland."

Frances Hegarty & Andrew Stones ‘For Dublin - nine manifestations in neon of James Joyce's Molly Bloom’, Event publication, The Nissan Art Project 1997 (Dublin: The Irish Museum of Modern Art, 1997)

Christa Maria Lerm-Hayes Joyce in Art: Visual Art Inspired by James Joyce (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2004) ISBN 1843510529.

‘In Public: Frances Hegarty and Andrew Stones consider their approach to working collaboratively in public space', The Visual Artists’ News Sheet, May/June issue, 2006

Hugh Campbell, 'The City and the Text: Remembering Dublin in Ulysses: Remembering Ulysses in Dublin' in Sarah Chaplin and Alexandra Stara (eds.) Curating Architecture in the City (London, New York: Routledge, 2006)

Suzanna Chan ‘Looking for Molly Bloom: Frances Hegarty and Andrew Stones’ art work For Dublin’, Irish Studies Review, 11(3), Dec2003, p.p. 321-335.

Gerard O’Toole ‘The Nissan Art Project’, Irish Arts Review, 2002

For further commentary and references see:


Frances Hegarty was born in Teelin, Co. Donegal, Ireland, later emigrating to Scotland. She now lives in Sheffield, England and Co. Donegal and is Emeritus Professor of Sheffield Hallam University. Her work as an artist spans three decades: at times concerned with received ideas of cultural and national identity, with emigration, with the female body and mortality. She works with video, audio, photographs, drawing and installation, exhibiting worldwide.

The video works Turas (Journey) and Gold were included in the survey exhibitions Beyond the Pale (IMMA Dublin 1995), Distant Relations (London, Dublin, Santa Monica, Mexico City, 1996-97) and L’Imaginaire Irlandais (Paris 1996). Her video installation Voice Over, based on interviews with four Bosnian women displaced by events in the former Yugoslavia, was shown in the U.K. and Ireland during 1995-96. In 1995 her photographic installation Point of View was installed at Heathrow Airport for one year. Video tapes and installations from her Auto Portrait series have been show widely in Britain and Ireland, Europe, Brazil, Australia and the United States, and purchased for collections. The Model and Niland Gallery, Sligo hosted a solo retrospective exhibition, accompanied by a published monograph, in 2004. See:

Andrew Stones was born in Sheffield, England. He has worked as an artist since 1984, receiving many awards and commissions, and undertaking residencies and fellowships. As a NESTA Fellow from 2001-04, he visited science establishments such as Arecibo Radio Observatory (Puerto Rico), Big Bear Solar Observatory (California) and CERN (Switzerland/France). He also writes, particularly on subjects related to the core concerns of his work: the untidy collisions of art, science, nature and technology which occur in everyday life. He expresses enjoyment in these entanglements, and a concern with the ways in which knowledge, history, authority and power become linked and politicised.

Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s Stones presented a series of large-scale installations including Class, Geiger, and The Conditions, and single-tape video works, including A History of Disaster with Marvels (Channel 4 Television, 1992). He works extensively with video and audio, more recently presenting gallery and site-specific projects throughout the UK and in Europe, including Accumulator (Commissioned by the National Sculpture Factory, Cork, 2003) Atlas (Chisenhale, London, and Copenhagen, 2004) and Tell Us Everything (Royal Institution, London, 2003). An artist’s book Outside Inside was published by Film and Video Umbrella, London in 2004. In 2007 Stones continued his engagement with digital photography with the exhibition, Midnight at Wildbrow Hall, at Peri Gallery, Turku, and a residency in the Finnish archipeligo. See:

Frances Hegarty & Andrew Stones established a collaborative practice centred on large scale, site-specific, temporary works bringing elements of illusion, temporal play, humour and disquiet to public locations. They have been commissioned to make site-specific works in the cities of Sheffield (Seemingly So Evidently Not Apparently Then, Site Gallery 1998), Birmingham (Orienteer (A-Z, Dawn to Dusk) Ikon Gallery 2000), Belfast (Overnight Sensation, Ormeau Baths Gallery 2001) and Bradford (Extra, Bradford Film Office 2003). In 2005 Hegarty & Stones were commissioned to produce a new work for Visualise Carlow: Ex Machina was presented in Carlow in 2006. Tactically Yours, a gallery installation occupying four rooms, was shown at the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, in 2007. These works consolidate some of the formal qualities evident in their earlier collaborative projects, and pursue a concern with the boundary between the personal and the political.

Commission Type Public Private Partnership (PPP)
Commissioner Name Nissan Ireland in association with the Irish Museum of Modern Art
Commissioning process International Competition (Jury Selection). Their collaborative work was selected from 90 entries. The decision of the international jury was announced on Wednesday 26 March 1997 at the Irish Museum of Modern, Dublin.
Public Presentation dates July 23, 1997 - October 31, 1997
Partners The Irish Museum of Modern Art
Artform Visual Arts
Funded By Private
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Location Nine Dublin city centre locations: The Thomas Cook travel agency; The Coral bookmakers; Opposite the Guinness Time Clock; The quay walls; The City Hall; The rear wall of the Provost’s House in Trinity College; Upper wall of Trinity College student residences; The Clarence Hotel.
County Dublin
Town Dublin
Content contributor(s) Web Editor
Associated professionals / Specialists involved
  • Gerard O'Toole, Executive Chairman, Nissan Ireland
  • Diana McCabe, Fuinancial & Corporate Communications Ltd.
  • Irene Coyle, Nissan Project coordinator at IMMA
  • Brenda McParland and Declan McGonagle at IMMA
  • The Estate of James Joyce (Seán Sweeney, Stephen Joyce)
  • Academy Signs (Eugene Hynes, Managing Director; Niall Smyth)
  • All personnel involved in the design and manufacture of the neon signs
  • American Express Ltd (Eileen Doherty; Bobbi Clarke)
  • The Clarence Hotel, Dublin (Claire O'Reilly; Anna Coleman)
  • Dublin Corporation (Jim Barratt, City Architect; Brian Callaghy,
  • Public Lighting; Dermot Kelly, Planning Dept)
  • Electricity Supply Board (Noel Kelly)
  • Fergus Taaffe Partners & Co. Solicitors, Dublin (Fergus Taaffe; Donal Taaffe)
  • Telecord Holdings, Dublin (Mr. Ted Ruscoe)
  • The Irish Times (Kevin Tormey)
  • Trinity College, Dublin (Terry McAuley)
  • Colleagues and friends in Sheffield, Manchester, Dublin and London
  • Gill & Hannah Jones

      The Nissan Art Project Jury panel were:

  • Sandra Percival (Director of Public Art Development Trust, London)
  • Fumio Nanjo (Curator)
  • Ciarán Benson (Chair of the Arts Council of Ireland)
  • Jim Barrett (Dublin City Architect)



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