Artwork: Under Darkening Skies
Under Darkening Skies, a public art commission by the visual artist Susan Mannion at the Ballycroy Visitor Centre at Wild Nephin National Park was officially launched by Sean Lysaght on Tuesday, June 21st, 2022.
The artwork was commissioned by the Office of Public Works (OPW) under the Percent for Art Scheme in collaboration with the NPWS of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Mayo County Council Arts Service, to mark the tenth anniversary of the opening of Ballycroy Visitor Centre.
The two-stage open competition was coordinated Mayo County Council Arts Service in partnership with the OPW. Susan Mannion is a visual artist based in Boyle specialising in copper enamel work, a technique that has been used since the 13th century BC. During the selection process the panel were greatly impressed with the artist’s approach to the commission and her proposed artwork inspired by the dark skies and the landscape.
The artist Susan Mannion describes how she was; ‘spellbound by the majesty and beauty of the night sky’ on first viewing the Milky Way while holidaying in Mayo in 2013. Subsequent visits to the National Park followed with Mayo’s naturally dark skies continuing to inspire her, and creating and ‘emotional and protective connection… I loved having the opportunity to create a wall-mounted sculpture combining imagery of the night time skies of this unique site, created in the jewel like qualities and amazing colour range of enamel. I designed a sculpture that would not interfere with, obscure or damage this unique and distinctive setting.’
The artwork was informed by discussion with the community, staff and visitors to the centre and through a questionnaire that was conducted in 2020 and 2021. People expressed how the landscape and dark skies had a huge impact on their lives and explained what delighted them about this area of County Mayo and their love of the landscape.
Under Darkening Skies can be seen on the exterior wall on the Ballycroy Visitor Centre, which is open to the public daily from 10.00 – 17.30 from mid-March to early November.