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Giant chequered teapot sculpture unveiled in Smithfield Square

Smithfield Utah is the second of six sculptures being created as part of Dublin City Council’s Sculpture Dublin initiative.

Image: Sculpture Dublin

A NEW SCULPTURE of a giant, chequered bronze teapot has been unveiled in Smithfield Square today. 

The sculpture, titled Smithfield Utah, was created by artist Alan Butler. It was formally unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland.

It is the second of six new sculptures being created as part of Dublin City Council’s Sculpture Dublin initiative.

The work was inspired by the shape of the Utah Teapot, a ‘virtual’ teapot form designed by mathematician Martin Newell in Utah in 1975.

Following a “competitive commissioning process”, Alan Butler was chosen to create a piece that could help define a space and enable a deeper relationship between residents, workers, tourists, commuters, and a city-centre neighbourhood, said Sculpture Dublin.

“I am honoured and delighted to have been included in the Sculpture Dublin programme and to create this sculpture for the city,” he said.

The task of conceiving a public artwork is always intimidating as it invites scrutiny from such a wide audience. My aim was to identify a form that can operate on as many scales as possible and create something widely engaging, while not resorting to clichéd public sculptural forms.

Butler added: “I was specifically drawn to the Utah Teapot form due to its universality. It is intended to be enjoyed at any level that any audience member wishes to access it.”

The Utah Teapot’s original format was a single page of computer code that described the shape numerically. The work was used to test visualisations of 3D designs before 3D computer graphics software was available. 

Newell made his teapot model public, enabling breakthroughs in software development that helped produce the physical and cultural spaces we inhabit today. 

2efa36e8-85e4-4c1f-8070-045a2682e891 Source: Sculpture Dublin

Speaking today at the unveiling, Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland said the sculpture is “an amazing example of the power of sculpture to speak to both a historic and contemporary way of Dublin life” and congratulated Butler on its creation. 

It captures the warmth, hospitality, and sense of community that exists in Smithfield and many other parts of Dublin city. But it does so in a manner that is both accessible and curious for those who view it.

 “I hope that the local community and all those who come to Smithfield will pause, engage with and enjoy the sculpture and that it becomes a talking point for those that do. These sculptures are playing an important role in city life and I look forward to further unveilings as the series progresses.”

Programme Director of Sculpture Dublin Karen Downey said: “The commission for Smithfield Square Lower was both exciting and challenging due to the significant change the area has undergone.

Smithfield has a long and rich history, stretching back to the arrival of the Vikings, and moving from an agricultural marketplace to a centre of industry, creativity, and innovation in recent years. ‘Smithfield Utah’ acknowledges the diversity and dynamism of this site; its deep-rooted local traditions and its place in the centre of multi-cultural, globalised contemporary city.

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The location of Smithfield Square Lower was chosen following initial consultation and a survey of sites conducted in 2019. Locations for the new commissions were identified in each of the 5 Dublin City Council Local Administrative Areas.

Sculptures will also be created for new Ballyfermot People’s Park, Ballyfermot; Bushy Park, Terenure; Smithfield Square Lower, Kildonan Park in West Finglas and St Anne’s Park, Raheny.

A temporary sculpture by commissioned artist Alan Phelan, entitled RGB Sconce, Hold Your Nose, was unveiled on the O’Connell Plinth in late September.

The five-metre-tall sculpture in red, yellow, green and blue was unveiled on a plinth outside Dublin City Hall. 

Alan Butler studied at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin and LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore. He works across a range of media to primarily explore digital cultures and video games.

His work has been exhibited widely in museums, galleries and arts festivals around the world, and is part of many collections, including The Irish Museum of Modern Art, The National Gallery of Ireland, and the Arts Council of Ireland. 

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Jane Moore

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