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NSF: Temporary Projects in the Docklands

Artist Name(s) Eli Caamano, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Seamus Nolan & Sorcha O'Brien
Artwork title NSF: Temporary Projects in the Docklands
Context/Background A series of three temporary public artworks from local, national and international artists, commissioned by the National Sculpture Factory, in the functioning docklands area of Cork. The project supported the artists' practices and sought to create new audiences for art through providing a richly historical and public context for these three exciting temporary artworks. Artists Sorcha O'Brien and Eli Caamano (Cork/Barcelona), Seamus Nolan (Dublin) and Inigo Manglano-Ovalle (Chicago) developed projects that engaged with the site in a temporal way. 

A series of three temporary public artworks from local, national and international artists, commissioned by the National Sculpture Factory, in the functioning docklands area of Cork.

Balloon by Sorcha O'Brien and Eli Caamano
Sorcha O'Brien and Eli Caamano installed 4 spherical 20ft balloons on the tops of buildings in the docklands area along Kennedy's Quay, including the landmark buildings R&H Hall and the Odlums Building. The lightness of touch that the balloon sculptures conveyed served as a counterpoint to the heavy and dense architectural blocks that comprise the docklands landscape. They act as beacons visible from many changing vantage points all over the city and docklands, and from the approach of the main Dublin/Cork road.

Docks Tour by Seamus Nolan
Seamus Nolan's Docks Tour was developed as a public artwork in collaboration with the available resources of the docklands and dockers employed in the area. The idea of a worker's tour of the region, of facilitating and relating this contemporary history as a natural resource, echoes the nature walkways and protected environments prevalent in our post-industrial societies. Visitors were taken on a historical horse-drawn tour around the remaining functioning parts of the docklands that included other previously infamous and significant dockland locations.

Weather Station (After Beckett) by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle
A sea container was precariously suspended between the land and water in the docklands to create the impression that it was neither arriving or leaving, echoing the 'state of suspension' of the docks itself. The container was customised to look like a white cube with a glowing red light in the interior, visible through transparent doors at either side. A weather station was attached to the interior of the sealed container, provoking thought on climate, micro-culture, globalisation and locality. The installation was sited at the corner of the Eamon de Valera Bridge and Albert Quay.


As part of the opening weekend of the public commissions, the artists programmed a contextual seminar, The Expectation of Spectacle in Public Art, which took place in the Port of Cork boardroom. The seminar explored the notion of spectacle in public art contexts, the expectations of audiences, commissioners and funders, and what public art can mean in the contemporary contexts of image saturation, major regeneration and architectural projects.  

The seminar was chaired by Caoimhín Corrigan, Arts Officer for Co. Leitrim, Director of The Dock in Carrick-on-Shannon, and commissioner for Ireland’s representation at the Venice Biennale 2009. Speakers included: Jon Bewley of Locus+, a UK-based commissioning agency for context-based art; Ailbhe Murphy, artist and PhD candidate at Interface, University of Ulster, Belfast, whose research focuses on the relation between collaborative art practice and regeneration processes in Dublin; and Daniel Jewesbury, artist and co-editor of Variant magazine who is currently researching and writing on ‘public’ and ‘diversity’ in post-conflict Belfast. The seminar also featured the artists Sorcha O’Brien, Eli Camaano, Seamus Nolan and Inigo Manglano-Ovalle in conversation with Glucksman Gallery Curator, Matt Packer, about their NSF-commissioned Temporary Projects in Cork’s docklands.


Eli Caamano was born in 1973 in Catalunya, and studied photography in Barcelona. In 1997, she moved to Ireland and studied sculpture in Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology. Recently she moved to Cork and began studying furniture making. She has been working in mixed-media for the past eight years, combining many materials and techniques. As her initial approach into art was photography, she still has a strong visual attitude regarding composition and structure.

Inigo Manglano-Ovalle was born in Madrid, Spain, in 1961, and was raised in Bogota, Colombia, and Chicago, where he currently lives, teaches, and maintains a studio. Over the course of the last decade, he has worked in a wide range of media-activist-inspired public art, sculpture, film, sound, and photography, all of which fuse the politics of contemporary urban culture with poetic meditations on aesthetics, history, and identity. He earned a BA in art and art history, and a BA in Latin American and Spanish literature, from Williams College (1983), and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1989). His strategy of representing nature through information leads to an investigation of the underlying forces that shape the planet as well as points of human interaction and interference with the environment. He has had major exhibitions at the Rochester Art Center, Minnesota (2006, the Art Institute of Chicago (2005) and has made work for the Liverpool Biennial and Documenta 12 in 2007.

Seamus Nolan is an artist based in Dublin. He was the recipient of Wexford County Council's inaugural Emerging Visual Artist Award 2006. Since then he has completed a residency in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, shown work in Japan, London and Venice with The Pilot Archives, in the Art in the Life World exhibition in Ballymun, and Phoenix Park in The Kerlin Gallery. He has had solo shows in both The Lab and the Wexford Art Centre, and has completed temporary public art works including Nature Reserve for Europalia in Brussels and Hotel Ballymun in Ballymun Co. Dublin.

Sorcha O'Brien graduated with honours from Limerick School of Art and Design in 2001 and has since exhibited in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick. She has travelled and lived in Asia, New Zealand and New York for two years during which she became involved in street theatre. In 2003 she settled in Cork and divides her time between a community arts practice and her own personal work. Predominantly drawing-based, her work utilises collage as a starting point to make intricate drawings, bringing together diverse and contrasting elements and attempting to reassess and unify them through the drawing process.

Commission Type Other
Commissioner Name National Sculpture Factory
Commissioning process Direct Invitation
Public Presentation dates September 19, 2008 - October 9, 2008
Partners Cork Docklands Directorate, Port of Cork, Cork City Council
Artform Visual Arts
Funded By The Arts Council,Cork City Council,Other
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Location Cork City Docklands
County Cork
Content contributor(s) David Dobz O'Brien
Public engagement

The commission reached a very wide audience due to its highly visual nature from various geographic location around the city (especially Balloon), and the various new partners involved in their installation. In particular, Docks Tours by Seamus Nolan, engaged with new audiences, through the temporary employment of a jarvey (driver of horse and carriage), giving tours of the docklands area. In his development of the commission, Nolan also met with dockers in a consultation process.

The project, as a whole, involved negotiations with various siteholders in the docklands area that generally would not normally engage with public art projects.  As well as this, the NSF built relationships with the city's art college Crawford College of Art and other students, who worked as volunteer mediators/guides during the project and in the preparation of the project and seminar. This included meeting with the artists for a Q & A session and working with the NSF staff team.