The Harvester brings heritage & diversity to life in Cootehill
A new piece of public artwork entitled 'The Cootehill Harvester' supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland under the Building Peace through the Arts programme was unveiled recently.
Created by Tony Stallard, The Cootehill Harvester project was co-ordinated by the Cootehill Building Peace through the Arts steering committee.
The theme ‘The Woven Fabric of our Community: People, Heritage and Diversity in Cootehill’ has been central to the creative development of the artwork which reflects Cootehill’s unique history as an important linen centre and how this trade led to the rapid development of the town, attracting people from diverse backgrounds. The sculpture is a bronze piece representing a working harvester.
Stage one of the project centered on community engagement, which was facilitated by artist Susan F Hunter. Consultation on themes relevant to Cootehill took place with the general public and specifically with targeted groups including: Darley and St Michael’s National Schools, St Aidan’s Comprehensive School, YouthReach, Drumlin House, The Cootehill Craft Circle and Cavan Traveller’s Movement.
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:
‘We are products of our past and as communities we chose to grow together or become divided. Weaving their lives together just as they did in days gone by with the linen, the people of Cootehill have used creativity and the arts as the thread to bring together their history and their hopes for the future. This fine new art piece in the town is a homage to the past a will no doubt be a striking symbol of strength for generations to come.’
The artists engaged for stage two, Tony Stallard, met with a number of groups: including the Painting Group, Drumlin House and YouthReach, working with them in clay to give them a sense of his own process. These workshops have involved local residents developing their own work in conjunction with the final placing of The Cootehill Harvester’ at Halton’s Park.
Tony Stallard, artist said:
‘The design has been modelled to represent a heroic figure struggling hard with his work whilst representing the harvesting with a hand full of flax. It suggests harvesting in a field of flax and allows the public to imagine the large numbers at work within the field, working around this heroic figure. It suggests a ghostly residue of the past entering into contemporary Cootehill".
Malachy Magee, Chair of the steering committee said:
‘We are fortunate in Cootehill to have received this funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and I really consider that The Cootehill Harvester will be a welcome addition to Halton’s Park. In recent years we have received support from agencies including: Cavan Monaghan Leader, Breifne Integrated and Cavan County Council to develop the outdoor amenity at Halton’s Park. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland guided us throughout this process. After an open competition process we appointed Tony Stallard to deliver the public artwork and we consider this piece represents the diversity of our community
The Building Peace through the Arts programme aims to support arts projects that promote a shared future and build positive relations within and between communities. This project was a partnership between Cootehill, Building Peace through the Arts steering committee, Cavan County Council and funders the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Cootehill Library staff facilitated the workshop and consultation process thorough the project.