Artist Name(s) Tina O'Connell
Artwork title In-Visible
Context/Background The People’s Park is the largest public park in Waterford city. Laid out over a century ago, its 6.6 hectares (16.3 acres) comprise the foremost public green space in the city. It is located at the junction of the Park Road and William Street. The current site of the People’s Park was originally a marshland which John’s River ran through, however in 1857 the river was diverted and the marshland drained to make way for the construction of the park. The park contains a Victorian-era bandstand and an old painted iron bridge connecting to the grounds of the Court House. Two canons from the Crimean War are also on display. The popular People's Park has been renovated and upgraded in recent years. In 1999, artist Tina O’Connell was commissioned to re-create a fountain on the same site as where there had been a Victorian style tiered fountain which had fallen into disrepair. Thus Tina's contemporary sculpture is also a fully functioning fountain. After an extended period of research into the materials and of development 'In-Visible' was finally sited and fully installed in 2002. On 12 July 2006, €1 million funding was announced to further and continue the park’s refurbishment.

‘In-Visible’ (2001) is a contemporary sculpture incorporating a water feature. Inspired by the connection between Waterford City and the world famous Waterford Glass industry, O'Connell's work consists of a very large transparent acrylic sphere (2 metres in diameter), over which clear running water continuously flows, and which is positioned on a large, circular platform made from black Kilkenny marble. The work has been referred to locally as the ‘Orb Fountain’.

Artist’s statement:

How is it possible to compete with the great outdoors?

“In this - my first large-scale public work to be sited outside - I wanted to make an intervention that would resonate with the specific cultural context of Waterford and the landscape of the People’s Park. Having worked with Waterford Crystal on a small-scale project for PS1 at MOMA in New York (0044), I wanted to create a large piece of glass; an optical apparatus and form that would invert the landscape – a crystal ball.

This proposal required detailed research into the crafts expertise of glassmakers in Waterford, which in turn led onto space and deep-sea exploration. I had input from a NASA engineer in the US who had firsthand knowledge of the production of the Hubble Telescope’s enormous glass lens. Like the slowly cooling kilns of Waterford Crystal, it required a specialist oven to heat and cool the glass to prevent cracking – a project that would require resources and time beyond my reach.

Moving on to explore plastics, a solution was found in the form of a deep-sea submarine diving bell, made from optically advanced, high-grade acrylic by Stanley Plastics in the UK. Spotted on a scrap pile on a visit with the engineers, this serendipitous find led to my reassessment of the approach. Working with specialists, it was calculated that by filling the internal volume with a constant stream of clear water, a form optically equivalent to a glass sphere could be achieved.

In its final realisation, 'In-Visible' brings together key elements that I have continued to explore in my work. The simple and monumental materiality of form is a significant element, found in the contrast between the hard acrylic, black Kilkenny marble and the cascading water (whose sound was an added bonus). Real time images of the park is captured on the surface of the orb and wanter, and are then inverted by the optics of the sphere, making it possible to watch others walk past - upside down: `nx to see the trees and the sky below.

The final work is both a sculpture and an image, which - like a Camera Obscura - captures life, not through the transmission of messages or representations captured on film, but through the physics of light bent and diverted through the material form itself.”


Tina O’Connell studied at Limerick College of Art (BA Fine Art), Chelsea College of Art ( MA Fine Art) and the ‘Ecole des Beaux Arts’, Marseilles (Post Diplome). Tina is currently an Associate Professor in Fine Art at Reading University. She has exhibited internationally, most recently in Galway, Ireland (2013) Washington DC, USA (2012) and London (2011).

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Aisling Prior, Artworking for Waterford City Council
Commissioning process Two-stage curated competition
Project commission dates August 31, 1999 - September 29, 2001
Artform Visual Arts
Funded By Waterford City Council
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Project commission start date 31/08/1999
Project commission end date 29/09/2001
Location The People's Park, Newtown Road
County Waterford
Town Waterford City
Content contributor(s) Web Editor and Tina O'Connell
Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Derek Verso, Waterford County Council Arts Officer

Waterford Crystal Glass Blowers

Parks and Amenities personnel, Waterford Co Council



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