‘The Pinnacle’

The formal unveiling of our sculpture ‘The Pinnacle’ took place, Friday 30th May, 2019. This was a momentous occasion and a proud moment for the school community of Clonkeen College. The Clonkeen College Design Team would like to share the creative journey with all, through words and imagery.

Tom Wallace (5th Year student in Clonkeen College) along with The Clonkeen College Design Team, created and edited a film documenting the creative process from concept to realisation. Please click here to view the film.

The process began when Clonkeen College was awarded the Per Cent for Art Grant as part of the recent refurbishments and extension to our school. The Irish Government supports the creation of public art by promoting its significance in our society. One of the ways that public art is promoted is through the Per Cent for Art Grant. We were fortunate to have been awarded the maximum available funds at the time, relative to the value of the refurbishment of our school. As the Art teacher, I was honoured to be entrusted with my role in coordinating this project. We established The Clonkeen College Design Team: Mr Melly (Principal) Dr Margaret Fitzgibbons (practicing Artist), Niamh Bell (parent representative), and I (Laura Healy, Art teacher). We designed and wrote our brief with the guidance of members in the Department of Education and Skills. The response to our brief was positive with many proposals from Irish and international artists.

We followed the Department of Education and Skills protocol and shortlisted the artists. The chosen artists had to refine their initial proposals for the site-specific location and present their proposal to the panel. The successful candidate, Nicolas Moreton, shone on the day of the interviews. He communicated his proposed sculpture with passion and enthusiasm. The Design Team was suitably impressed with Nicolas and following deliberations he was awarded the commission.

Personally, from an Art teacher’s perspective, Nicolas’s initial proposal was impressive in the way that he communicated his concept visually with beautiful draughtsmanship and personal hand-written annotation. Nicolas’s pencil and ink sketches captivated me as I believe that drawing is fundamental to all art disciplines in that it communicates visually in a two-dimensional format an artist’s creative concept.

It was a privilege to have worked with Nicolas Moreton, he has been the consummate professional. To our delight he sourced some of his core materials in Ireland which created an instant connection and attachment to the piece. The stone used in the sculpture is both familiar and warm to the school community. Niall Kavanagh, of McKeon Stone, supplied the Kilkenny marble from his vast quarry. Niall also kindly provided a workspace for Nicolas, on site, within the stone yard in Stadbally. This enabled Nicolas to work on carving our sculpture in a creative environment with professional support, if needed. Niall Kavanagh is a patron of the arts and he told us about his extensive art collection and that his brother is the owner and curator of a gallery in Dublin.

Working with Nicolas has been such a pleasure. Nicolas has gone above and beyond the initial proposal and has delivered an outstanding sculpture that brings daily joy to our school community. Due to Nicolas’s generosity of spirit, we feel that it is more than a piece of public art, it is a wonderful gift that we are eternally grateful to have received.

We feel privileged to know Nicolas as an artist. We have the utmost respect and admiration for the sculptures he creates. His vision, sensitivity and respect for the materials he works with enable him to render multifaceted qualities within the stone and bring out the inherent beauty within the sculpture. This beauty is appreciated by all at Clonkeen College.

The unveiling would not have been possible without the unwavering support of the members within our school community and our generous Board of Management.

Thank you to our wonderful Student Council and our Parents’ Association. Thank you to: Teresa, Sandra, Suzanne, Philip and Jim for the logistical support on the day. Thank you to the teachers that provided help with regards to decorations in the lead up to the event: Jennifer Egan, Máire Duffy and our Deputy Principal, Michael Brennan. Thank you to the musical element orchestrated by our teachers; Katie Duignan and Pearse McGloughlin. Thank you to our talented students who sang and performed on the day: Tom O’Connor and Andrew O’Donavan. Thank you to our father and son team that created the display for the foyer and the information brochure: Dermot Malone and Barra Malone. Please click here to view the Brochure.

Thank you to our artistic Principal Edward Melly, for capturing ‘The Pinnacle’ in a sensitive and accurate pencil sketch. This sketch is the central image on our foyer display at reception. Thank you to our staff for embracing the sculpture and celebrating the day of the unveiling. Thanks to Emer Gibson for successfully getting our unveiling acknowledged in a national newspaper. The image chosen for the article was of our past Chairperson of the Board, Michael Blanchfield, cutting the ribbon on ‘The Pinnacle’ at the moment of the big reveal. Photographs capture a moment in time never to be lived again. I’m so grateful that this special moment was chosen. Please click here to view newspaper article.

Thank you to the past Principals, past Board of Management members, past staff members, friends and neighbours of Clonkeen College for sharing our celebration and protecting and promoting the characteristic spirit of our school.

Thank you to our past Board of Management of 2018 for sharing in our celebrations and for all the support in the past in relation to the school, its grounds, its pitches, its structural renovations and the newly built extension.

And finally, thank you to our Principal, Edward Melly. According to a recent article in the The Irish Times, on average, only 60% of schools’ avail of The Per Cent for Art Grant, without Mr Melly’s passion, enthusiasm and drive, this project would have never come to fruition.

We are eternally grateful to our artist, Nicolas Moreton, for gifting our school community with an iconic piece of art and one that we hope in time will be synonymous with Clonkeen College.

Laura Healy, Art Project Coordinator