Bobbin Lace and Steel
Lace Matrix. photo Aengus McMahon
Commissioned by the Headford Lace Project as part of Galway 2020
European Capital of Culture events - Small Town Big Ideas
Inspired by the history of lace in the town of Headford and the many cultural groups active in the area, I wanted the sculpture to draw on local creativity, one that was interactive. Lacemaking is a solitary activity, incredibly slow to make and usually tiny in scale. The. brief from the Headford lace project who commissioned the work was to create a symbol of lacemaking traditions for the town. This solution provided an interactive platform for local hand skills and creativity to be showcased in centre of the town. Working on a really large scale meant it would become a collaborative activity, something that demonstrated through process how this resilient craft can be reinterpreted but still hold its traditional craft at its heart.
Made of forged metal, two symmetrical forms, create a large heart shape. The heart shape is derived from a lace sample made by the local lacemaking community, based on the first uncovered lace sample attributed to Headford’s lost lace history. Using a system based on hanging farm gates, it draws on the tradition of farming related metalwork in the area. The loops of metal inside the frame, echo picot edging found on the border of lace, serve as location points from which to thread a giant lacework.
Working on Lace Matrix with local lacemakers in Headford, Co Galway
Lace Matrix in Bobbin lace and steel
The two halves of the heart shape allow the heart form to rotate, opening and closing like butterfly wings or rotating to create different fixed viewing perspectives for different proposals. Pat Monaghan of Forge Ironworks is a third generation blacksmith and has worked intensely with me crafting this sculpture. It is only in recent years that he has returned to making traditional farm gates that would have been a staple in his grandfather’s practice around Headford.
The framework is the basis for an interactive artwork that invites community participation. Using knowledge from lace making techniques of knotting and twisting threads the heart shaped frame will be strung with cord, to make different patterns and colours in a giant lacework. It is Ireland’s largest lace work. Traditional net making knots, linear patterns, or more complicated lace braids, plaits or twists can be made. As skills develop the content can evolve and provide an ongoing changing artwork to the community. The Lace Matrix can be a project that changes and becomes a public symbol of creativity in the town and an invitation to national or international artists & lace makers to propose a project for it.
Headford Lace Project is a voluntary community initiative established to research, revive, and reimagine the lacemaking heritage of Headford, County Galway, a town in the west of Ireland whose lace industry originated c.1766. They achieve their objectives through workshops, demonstrations, community collaborations, and events that inspire. In 2021, Headford Lacemaking was added to the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Columba 1500 Art Commissions
Bró na noileán
Royal Irish Academy Dublin
Bró na nÓileán - Quern of the Islands
Hot cast and sculpted glass Photo Phillip Lauterbach.
Coimisiúin Ealaíne Cholm Cille 1500 / Columba 1500 Art Commissions
As part of the year-long commemoration of the 1500th anniversary of Colm Cille's birth, the Royal Irish Academy, with the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs, commissioned seven new artworks. The commissions were organised by Coiste Léann na Gaeilge, Litríocht na Gaeilge agus na gCultúr Ceilteach (the Irish Language, Literature and Celtic Cultures Committee), and the resulting artworks - in the fields of visual art, music, poetry, drama and fiction in Irish and Scottish Gaelic - reflect the richness, diversity and dynamic quality of Columban tradition.
Inspired by Colm Cille's belief that there are ‘three ways to draw people to faith’, the artwork in glass, titled ‘Bró na nOileán’ (‘Quern of the Islands’), draws on the Irish saying ‘Is mall a mheileann muilte Dé’ (‘The mills of God grind slowly’). The form suggests ideas of planting grain, sharing bread and, in that, Colm Cille’s influence on local communities. The colours and reflected light conjure up images of turbulent seas and the landscapes of the islands of Ireland and Iona.
Cast shadow of Bró na nOileán
Photo Ronan Fox
Paediatric Outpatients and urgent care centres
Connolly and Tallaght Hospital
Róisín blowing one of the glass balloons
Balloon tree in the Tallaght Children's Hospital
The balloon tree is based on the idea of the lost balloon. A tree that collects and nurtures the balloons before releasing them to float freely into the corridors and waiting areas of this emergency care unit.
Drawing on Irish cultural traditions of wishing or fairy trees, this sculpture stands 5.3 m tall at the centre of the entrance foyer. Made of steel, it holds 16 balloons in a series of shaped arcs that form the tree.
Throughout the service on three floors and the staircases, a variety of transparent and opaque balloons are poised floating on walls and tucked away in unexpected places, bringing a moment of distraction and playfulness to this medical space.
The work was commissioned by Children's Hospital Group Public Art programme for Children’s Health Ireland (CHI)
Floating balloons lighten the mood in different examination rooms
St Paul’s commemorative window Blackrock College Co Dublin
St Paul’s commemorative window Blackrock College Secondary school.
Commissioned by the past pupil association for the sesquicentennial celebrations.
The piece is based on the teachings of St Paul and the current spiritual ethos of the school.. St Paul was never one to take the easy road and looked to the margins of society to work with less advantaged people. Within the school is this incredible ethos of working together.
The whole piece is constructed using a combination of balance and counterbalance. I wanted the viewer to have to physically move to see through to the garden beyond. The dimensions of the window can only be understood by examining the piece from different angles. One must move back and forth trying to understand the optics created by both types of glass. In doing that the perspective and view changes immeasurably as you must look through the thickness of the glass.
Hot cast and float glass installation. The cast blocks were made in the Czech Republic with Banas Glass. Custom moulds were made so we could ladle hot glass directly into this form. Later polished edges reveal the magic of the interior of the material & variations within. 3 different tones of blue were used to create the effect.
TRANSIENCE Glass Installation at Ballyrowan Public Library Dublin
'Magnificence' Working drawing
Transience - Installation over looking main reception area
Working with the transient of light in the building as a metaphor for the poem Sailing to Byzantium by WB Yeats, I constructed a grid of coloured squares. The light in this building comes from predominantly the right side of the building casting dramatic shadows into the atrium. Using a tonal grid of equal sized squares, a mosaic of different colours is suggested. Between each coloured square is a square of clear glass. This provides a screen of privacy to the offices behind but allows the employees different viewpoints to the atrium below.
Projecting from the front of the screen into the atrium are fins of coloured glass onto which selected words from the poem are engraved. These words are key signature words which have both symbolic and figurative meanings in the overall sense of the poem. By having them etched on these fins, the type can be read from both sides. The reversed type suggests the craft of embossed printing in letterpress, and the positive type can be read and interpreted by the library user. Through the movement of light through these fins of glass, the words are projected onto the surface of the screen. During the transient light of each day, the shadow of letters become stronger or more elongated, resulting in a constantly changing coloured screen. The overall appearance is of open pages or windows, echoing the function of the library as a portal to learning, an opening on acquiring information and knowledge.
The hammered gold is represented by longitudinal lines of gold leaf which will be worked onto the vertical stays of the window frame and shutter, suggesting glimpses of golden opulence and splendour. These will also glimmer with the changing light of each day.
In the poorer quality of light of winter, interior lighting in the office spaces illuminate the squares of glass and project light from the inside out, creating a different lighting effect on the typographical glass fins.
The Sensory Garden - Áras an Uahtarán (The President's Residence)
'Taste the First Strawberry' is a play on the produce that is grown in the Kitchen Garden behind this wall, which is used by the presidency to feed the many visitors who come to garden parties at the residence all summer. Commissioned By the President of Ireland