A much-loved public space since the Victorian times, Swan Park was bequeathed to the people of Buncrana and its visitors by Harry Swan, whose family ran a successful milling business in the town from 1868 until the early 1980s.
Swan Mills, through its associated Buncrana Electricity Supply Company, also provided clean, hydro-generated electricity to the town from 1905 to 1954.
The ‘Art in the Park: Energy’ exhibition and associated workshops, funded by Arts Council of Ireland, have seen the temporary installations of a solar powered globe sculpture ‘Só an Uisce’ by Kevin Harkin, an interactive fairy village ‘Púca na Cranncha’ by Mark Cullen, twisting ribbon-style metal sculptures echoing the history of textiles at Swan Mill by Rosalind Lowry and a ‘Swan’s Light’ pillar by John McCarron which pays homage to trailblazers Harry Swan and his brother John who were among the first power generators in Ireland to supply electricity and electric light to an urban area.
Project Co-ordinator Rebecca Strain from the Artlink collective said: “We’re delighted to have received really positive feedback from the local community and visitors alike over the past couple of weeks who have loved the ‘Art in the Park’ exhibition and have really taken it to their hearts.
“Indeed, this hugely successful exhibition has even seen some of our local birds admiring the artworks on display!
“We have also received great news from Donegal County Council that they have recognised the importance of this exhibition and have invited us to make it an annual event. This project not only creates opportunities for artists, it helps to instil a special sense of pride for people in the area about their cultural and industrial heritage and also encourages them ‘to get out and about’ as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic – with the added positive mental health benefits of experiencing the amazing natural features and rich resources of Swan Park!”
Martha McCulloch, Artlink Co-ordinator added: “The ‘Art in the Park’ exhibition is part of our ‘New Rhythm 2022’ programme of public events aimed at making art in the area more visible and physically accessible to people and visitors alike.
“Indeed, all the site specific artworks are for the whole family to observe, interact with, learn from and enjoy. In particular, it has been really wonderful to see the joy and excitement on the faces of the children and families who have experienced the interactive fairy village ‘Púca na Cranncha’ in Swan Park. On Saturday 19 February many participated in the ‘Púca Portrait’ workshop by local artist Mark Cullen – who has not only taught them how to design their very own Púca / Púca Hut but also explained how the app for the art exhibition was developed, fusing hand drawing with digital technology.”
Martha concluded: “I’d also like to take this opportunity to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to the four artists who participated in this year’s ‘Art in the Park’ exhibition – we couldn’t have done it without you! I would also encourage as many people as possible to visit the innovative and memorable artworks on show in Swan Park over the next couple of weeks up until the closing date for the exhibition on March 8.
“Indeed, we’re already excited to be planning for next year’s ‘Art in the Park’ group event which promises to be even bigger and better!” The ‘Art in the Park: Energy’ inaugural group art exhibition is funded by Arts Council of Ireland.