Steps out of the shadows
October 20, 2014 . By admin . Leave Comment
Maurice Harron has produced some of the most popular sculptures in the country. I asked a prominent art historian about his work. "Maurice who?" he said. Images of Harron's sculptures have graced newspaper and magazine pages, have featured in advertisements and television documentaries. His image of two men reaching out to shake hands in Derry, has become an icon of the peace process.
His 18ft high trio of figures on the Donegal-Derry border at Strabane was, he says, the country's largest public sculpture until the erection of Dublin's Spire.
His 15ft horseback 'Chieftain' in Roscommon is the country's most popular public sculpture, according to a RTE online poll. And yet Harron's name is virtually unknown.
"I'm not in the least bit 'hard cheesed' about it," says Harron. "Where public art is concerned, the name doesn't matter. Once you put something like that up, you forget it. It becomes part of public property and the public imagination."
Born in Donegal and raised in Derry, Harron studied at the Ulster College of Art and Design and then taught art. In 1989, he entered a competition to provide a sculpture at the entrance to Derry. His first idea was a sculpture of two men staring at each other, signifying the animosity that existed between the two communities. But as he worked on his entry, trying to capture this troubled relationship, he changed his mind.
Instead he made his two figures reach out and shake hands, and called it 'Reconciliation'. The idea won Harron the competition, but as the deadline for casting the figures approached, he made a crucial alteration. "I separated the men a bit, so the hands don't meet." This reconciliation was "an 'in progress' thing"...