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Una inspires!

Una Watters will be commemorated in her native Finglas by a sculpture commissioned by Dublin City Council in association with Sculpture Dublin. https://www.sculpturedublin.ie/news-events/ The piece, a six-metre corten steel figure, will be placed in Kildonan Park in Finglas West, and the artist who won the commission, Belfast-born Sara Cunningham Bell, has already been in consultation with local people who suggested Una as one of the inspirations for the piece.

“She (Una) carries the importance of others with her in the sculpture form,” Sara has said. 

Sara’s sculptural creations are “figurative in form and documentary in approach”.

“The idea for the artwork has been informed by listening to, and learning from the people of Finglas. It is driven by a desire to produce a significant sculptural form, that can be interacted with, and enjoyed as a feature of the park, which represents a positive and uplifting presence in the locality.”

Una was born, raised and lived all of her adult life at Cappagh Cross, close to Kildonan, which is about 2.5 kilometres from Finglas village. The area – both rural and urban – featured in much of her work. (A shout-out here to anybody in Finglas who might have two of her urban paintings – School Break and Building Scheme – which feature the new suburb in the 1960s, which we have still not located.)

The bungalow which Una shared with her husband, Eugene Watters, was set in picturesque countryside and still stands today, although her former family home right beside it was demolished in recent years. The once rural setting of Cappagh Cross has now been overtaken and degraded by motorway development, which makes it unrecognisable as the rural idyll Una depicted in her paintings such as The Farm (1964) and Harvest (1965).

More public consultation will go ahead in the coming months and Sara’s piece will enhance the refurbishment of the 20-acre park. The sculpture project is supported by the Hugh Lane Gallery, Visual Arts Ireland, the Parks and Landscape Offices and the City Arts Office.

Sara Cunningham-Bell has undertaken many public art commissions, including pieces for the Ulster University, Kingspan Stadium, DECAL, IRFU, The Mater Hospital, Victoria College Belfast, European Union Programme for Peace and Reconciliation, Bass Ireland, and the Centre of Theology and Philosophy. You can see her work on https://www.cunninghambell.com.

The photograph shows Sara Cunningham-Bell at work on “Towards Tomorrow” for the Lodge Road roundabout in Coleraine. Photograph: courtesy of the artist.

By Mary Morrissy

Mary Morrissy curates this site. She is an award-winning novelist, short story writer and journalist. She has taught creative writing at university level in the US and Ireland for the past 20 years, and is also an individual literary mentor.

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