Public art at the Bridgegate
A series of public art projects is a major feature in the successful regeneration of Irvine’s Bridgegate.
Artist Peter McCaughey is working with Greenwood Academy pupils on key dates in Irvine and Scotland's history for Line runs through it
Rachel Janson of Greenwood Academy and Kirsten Murdoch of Irvine Royal Academy with Irvine Bay's James Ledgerwood
Conceived as part of the refurbishment of this key area of central Irvine, the artwork is an integral part of the redevelopment of the public space at the Bridgegate.
Local people played a vital role in creating each work, offering their knowledge, memories, ideas and creativity to the projects, which seem to have caught the imagination of the Irvine community. As part of our successful education programme, pupils at local schools took part in many of the projects. And a shop-turned-studio in the Rivergate mall, WAVE in Irvine, provided an invaluable way of meeting the public and involving them in the whole process.
A line runs through it
A timeline runs from the High Street, through the Bridgegate to the new steps of Trinity Church by the Rivergate shopping centre. The timeline features key dates in the history of Irvine, Scotland and beyond. Local people, young and not so young, have been breathing life into this concept by suggesting their ideas for dates of real significance to Irvine.
This idea is centred around an embodied experience of the passage of time -people walking along Bridgegate actually walking through history. Also as this is an artwork, not just a formal historic timeline, there is room for poetic licence - the mixing of big history and little history, local and international, hard fact and myth.
The Trinity Mirror is a single point of contact vertical sculpture 9 metres high, made from highly polished stainless steel, formed from the exact measurements and proportions of the steeple of Trinity Church. This work will have a stunning impact on the eye from the High Street and every vantage point from which it is visible. The work connects to its context, bringing the scale of the steeple to ground level. Around the base of Aspire is a ground-based artwork which extends in a 4 metre band around the sculpture’s base. This artwork is made up from reversed text and symbols that can only be read in the reflection of the mirrored panels of the mainsSculpture. This text radiates from the centre of the sculpture in ever-increasing circles that themselves reflect the key themes of Reflection, Revelation & Transformation. They travel across history, geography and personal emphasis sewn together by the flow of the River Irvine. Each word is the result of close consultation and workshops with the community of Irvine. These words and phrases mark famous places and forgotten treasures, words from famous sons and daughters of Irvine- little gems that help the passer-by or visitor to the town orientate themselves like a giant compass that offers a sense of the ancient geography and enormous history of this old town new town.
In the manner of word-searches there are hidden meanings here too that close study will reveal. The work is imagined to keep the interest of generations of the community for decades to come.
Ringing the changes
The three bells from Trinity Church have been mounted on stone plinths which line the approach to the refurbished church. Local people have taken part in a competition to identify the words which feature on each bell. Each short phrase or saying relates to the idea and importance of these bells in our culture.
A series of 9 fragments of the main sculpture populate the greenspace which is part of the new landscaping of the town centre -adjacent to the new steps that lead up to Trinity Church. Each shard reflects its surroundings and offers a different facet of the large work. Each Shard creates a space for children to play in, around and through it.
Local young people have been contributing to the refurbishment of Trinity Church. Three separate projects will help to connect the restored building with the the place and people. School pupils have contributed design work for stained glass windows, column capitol carving and a capstone and weathervane.
Part of the whole
The public art is an integral part of the regeneration, a deliberate step towards recreating a sense of place, as this key site in the centre of the town is transformed. Artist Peter McCaughey worked closely with architects Austin Smith Lord and contractors, Land Engineering, through every stage of the development.
“There’s no library in the world that could hold the knowledge that comes through the door at the WAVE studio.” Peter McCaughey, WAVE
WAVE in Irvine
The studio is one of the most innovative and successful aspects of the whole public artwork programme. The converted shop in the Rivergate shopping mall provided a local base for artist Peter McCaughey and his team (who have a permanent studio in Glasgow) but most importantly, a place where local people could see what was happening and contribute their ideas.