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There is one strand to Michael Scott's achievement which must not pass unnoticed: the ability to bring about a marriage between buildings and the other visual arts. Architects throughout the world have been hopefully commissioning prestigious artists in an attempt to put back some of the human interest which the rigours of their style have banished. But none has chosen, placed and lighted so well as he. This is of course a specifically Irish gift. (Wright, 1975, p. 169)
No person who is not a great sculptor or painter can be an architect. If he is not a sculptor or painter, he can only be a builder. (Ruskin, 1853, p. 61)
The title of this chapter is taken from the title of a magazine article by Michael Scott in Art about Ireland Vol. 2, No. 2, pp 6-8, published by the Arts Council. The article contains an account of Scott's attitude to art and sculpture throughout his architectural career and highlighted various works that he and his firm had commissioned for their buildings.
Michael Scott saw architecture as more than just the provision of a building's fabric. He firmly believed that architects should share a common education with students of other artistic disciplines and should always try to incorporate works of art into their buildings. Scott hoped to see a time when students would pursue a common two year architecture course before branching out into product or furniture design or continuing on in architecture. The basis to this was his opinion that architects might make tired architectural decisions unless refreshed by other aesthetic areas. This of course was rooted in his own education as an architectural apprentice and as an art student at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. From an early stage in his career Scott put these ideas into practise. The earliest examples are murals in Tullamore Hospital by Frances Boland (née Kelly), and in the Richmond Hospital by Patrick Scott. In his New York World Fair Pavilion (1939) Scott included sculpture and a large mural painting by Sean Keating as an integral part of his design. This mural ran the whole length of the entrance hall (the stem) and depicted Ireland through history. He also used colour as an important part of his architecture having reacted against the stark white minimalism of the pre-war International Style. At the New York World Fair he integrated the colours of the Irish Tricolour into the exterior façade of the building. During the Emergency, buildings like O'Rourke's Bakery, Dublin and the Ritz Cinema in Athlone continued this trend - with designs for embossed glass panels and carved panels by Louis le Brocquy.
Scott always made a point of commissioning young Irish painters and sculptors to produce work for his buildings - people like Frances Boland, Nano Reid, Hilary Heron (1923-1977), Evie Hone (1894-1955) and Oisin Kelly (1915-1981). Scott apparently had a highly tuned visual sense which allowed him to pick young artists who could produce the right work for his building. According to Plan magazine of March 1973, Scott was responsible for "discovering" Barney Heron, Oisin Kelly, Patrick Scott and Louis le Brocquy (Anon, March 1973, p. 6).
An important member of Scott's team on the Busáras project was the painter and architect Patrick Scott. Patrick Scott was developing a reputation as a designer and painter of abstract patterns and had exhibited from 1941. He later was to design a series of carpets for Kilkenny Design Workshops - the semi state body set up to foster and encourage industrial design. Patrick was mainly concerned with the decoration and colour schemes of the building.