The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has announced the official launch of ‘Under Darkening Skies’ a public art commission by the visual artist Susan Mannion at the Ballycroy Visitor Centre at Wild Nephin National Park.
The artwork was commissioned by the OPW under the Percent for Art Scheme, in collaboration with the NPWS and Mayo County Council Arts Service, to mark the tenth anniversary of the Ballycroy Visitor Centre.
The artwork was officially launched by Sean Lysaght on June 21, an auspicious day in the astronomical calendar, being the Summer solstice, the longest day of the year.
Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan has welcomed the installation of the artwork: “I want to acknowledge this fantastic collaborative project between my staff in the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Arts Service in Mayo County Council and OPW’s Art Management Office.
“This inspiring artwork by Susan Mannion will give pause for thought on the importance and beauty of our all-encompassing natural world. The designation of the Dark Sky Park on the western seaboard of Ireland introduces the next chapter in the evolution of Wild Nephin National Park and the unique opportunities it will bring to the local community and to the wider region.”
Denis Strong, NPWS divisional manager, added: “The National Parks and Wildlife Service welcome the installation of this stunning art piece Under Darkening Skies by Susan Mannion. It represents the wonder and beauty of our natural world and the importance of environmental education in its protection. This art will add to the immersive experience at the visitor centre and encourage visitors to look up and enjoy our ever-changing skies.”
Aoife O’Toole, acting public art coordinator, Mayo County Council, commented: “During the selection process the panel were greatly impressed with the artist’s approach to the commission and her proposed artwork inspired by the dark skies and the landscape. Mayo County Council are delighted to have worked with the OPW and NPWS on this commission.”
Susan Mannion is a visual artist based in Boyle specialising in copper enamel work, a technique that has been used since the 13th century BC.
Wild Nephin National Park was accredited Gold Tier dark sky place status by the International Dark Sky Association in 2016, with the Mayo Dark Sky Park being Ireland’s first Dark Sky Park.
Under Darkening Skies’ can be seen on the exterior wall on the Ballycroy Visitor Centre, which is open to the public daily from 10.00 – 17.30 from mid-March to early November.
For more information you can contact the Ballycroy Visitor Centre via phone +353 (0) 98 49888 or via email [email protected].