Completion of Word-Tree sculpture for Sancta Maria Secondary School New Building Percent for Art, Louisburgh, Co Mayo.
I completed Word-Tree in March this year (2020) just before the Covid lockdown. It was an incredible and challenging experience to realise the project. Stainless steel is a beautiful material but also very hard and unforgiving. It is the ultimate material of the 20th Century. (The Dragon Rocket made by SpaceX (Elon Musk) is clad in stainless steel so if it is good enough for outer space well....... It is incredibly durable and when mirror polished retains the highly polished finish.
Working with the TY years in Sancta Maria was a great experience. They created the poem which forms the tree shape with creative writer/poet Jean Tuomey over a series of workshops in 2019. The final group poem they created is really interesting piece of textual work. The bottom line of the poem finishes with the line "Our grades do not define us" A brave and fitting statement for a bunch of highly imaginative, confident young people ready to take on the world! There was huge support for the project via TY co-ordinator Ms Deborah Maxwell who was so helpful at every stage. Word-Tree was a very ambitious undertaking from the very start the school put their trust in me to realise the project. I cannot thank them enough for that. Under the careful stewardship of the Principal Pauline Moran with assistance from Miranda Rice and Art Teacher Tom O Flynn the whole project moved like a well oiled train. Noel Billington (Caretaker) was on hand at all times to make my my job easier. There was such a helpful spirit all round it was special. This was an extremely complex project with many elements to resolve at each stage. I had to stretch my art practice to encompass the many elements from so many different angles.
I especially want to thank Jess Matterer (Bremen, Germany) for his support and technical assistance throughout the project. Jess formerly worked on some extremely complex engineering projects including The Louis Vuitton Foundation building in Paris designed Frank Gehry Architects Los Angeles. Frank O Reilly -O Reilly Design, Westport Co Mayo provided the graphics to help visualise the project.
The new school is a beautiful building designed by Taylor McCarney Architects, Castlebar, Co Mayo who were also the art project curators. It is sensitively designed with a spacious atrium and a flowing design that is set in the most spectacular location on the edge of Louisburgh town a short walk to the Atlantic sea nearby. Nature, the wild ocean and the overarching mountains provide an ever present back drop. I want to thank Barry Kinnane (Architect, Taylor Carney Architects Castlebar) for his constructive advice during the whole project and prompt responses to all my emails.
As part of the project the TY students also created a series of poems which were animated by drawings via workshops from art students under guidance from Tom O Flynn (Art Teacher) These poems and drawings are on permanent exhibition in the school. They are a doorway into the world of ideas and images reflecting on personal relationships, nature, the school community and the natural world. This was formally attended by Minister for Social Protection Michael Ring on the opening of the new school.
Fergal Mc Grane(Engineering Support Services, Swinford Co Mayo) gave excellent support on the structural engineering sideI worked with Olandi Engineering locally for precision cutting of materials using water jet technology. Stephen Cannon contractors Lousiburgh was very helpful and obliging for all the foundation works. The first time we tried to install the sculpture there was a gale blowing so we had to reschedule. Ruairi Mc Connell (Mc Connell Fine Furniture) was on hand to solve some challenging technical issues. Paul Sammin Electrical were super with advice on lighting and Abcon (Stainless supplies) in Cavan were just fantastic to work with I especially want to mention Gary O Connell who offered expert and timely advice. For assistance in the studio I want to thank Peadar Cawley (Welding) Tony Day Studio Technician.. Mairead Ludden MEng (Engineer Castlebar) provided practical support along the way. The school was built by Kilcawley construction and I want to thank Dermot Kelly(Project Manager Kilcawley) and Malachy Heverin(Site Manager) for their willingness to help.