Over the last few months I have been working on two sculptural projects.
‘Hybrid’ consists of a set of wings measuring fifteen feet in height and ‘Saviour’ a collaborative sculpture with my students in HSE EVE Estuary.
An alchemical hybrid; formed of unwanted materials that have been transmuted to create something new. The creature is awakened through your interaction. It is the forming of two species, representing the fundamental unity of existence. It represents how imagination and reality have the ability to become one.
For me, this piece portrays feelings of endless possibilities, growth and power. The scale was very important to me, to relay this message; I would have liked to go even larger. Standing in front of them you are transformed into another being, your inner self soars upwards and you are gifted with the power to rise above it all.
Hybrid motifs have been used in many cultures and can be found in mythologies and artworks from around the world. They date back many centuries to a time when people had more of a connection with nature. For them, the hybrid was not a strange entity because their belief in how all creation was interconnected was so strong. A hybrid was usually a creature that carried a positive meaning; it usually brought together the symbolic strengths of different entities.
There is also evidence that shows that in the past we did not separate imagination from reality as much as we do today. In the past there was a belief that if it could be imagined then there was a sense that it existed. Nowadays, it seems more common that we don’t trust our own minds. We have been trained in ways to think and have been thought to mistrust our conscious and subconscious.
In a time of major unrest I feel that it would be of great value to the human race to stop, look back and learn from where we all began. If we did, we would see that we are all hybrids, crossbreeds and mix-lings; we are all of mixed origin and composition.
Who, what or where is your saviour? Taking the iconic and lasting form of a winged angel we wish to start this conversation with spectators. This glowing guardian hovers over us all, creating a calm confident spirit, which we can emulate in our own lives.
She is a symbol for peace, reflection, happiness and love. She stands exposed, open and ready. How we choose to treat and see her will be a reflection of our own nature. Join her in her confidence and help spread a feeling of love and calm.
The starting point for this piece was inspired by ‘Hybrid’. I took my original template, shrunk it down and created a smaller template. Artists from my class then took this template, drew it onto the metallic foam material and cut it out. We used recycled plywood and timber, that I sourced through various means, as backing for the wings and overall support structure. Working as a team I was able to take everybody’s talents into account and integrate them into the overall project.
For me, a saviour can be many things. It can be anyone or anything that brings light into the world, someone who is not afraid to be exposed, someone with confidence in their own skin and their own ideas and someone who is not afraid to fail. In a very literal sense it can be anyone that saves the environment & resources from being wasted; we were the saviours for this old shop mannequin, we saved this wood from a skip, we saved this metallic foam from the refuse centre.
I am an Alchemist!
Alchemy: Any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.
I have found that I am hugely driven by the use of recycled or found materials. I joined Recreate Ireland this year and was inspired by a metallic coloured soft foam material that they usually have quite a bit of) to create ‘Hybrid’ and ‘Saviour’.
Making something beautiful and inspiring out of reused materials is such a driving force for me in my work.
Recycling should be redefined as alchemy.
Both artworks, ‘Hybrid’ and ‘Saviour’, were on display as part of the arts trail at ‘Knockanstockan’ 2016. ‘Knockanstockan’ is an independent music and arts festival located right next to the Blessington lakes in Co. Wicklow.
After some work, ‘Saviour’ was installed in a wonderful position. An amazing man named Maddog and his friends John and Groom saved the day by raising our fallen angel up into the trees, right above a stage shaped like a wishbone.
It is important to learn from negative experiences or failures so that we can become better at what we do. Coming up against issues in relation to your art can either make you feel bad about your work or can empower you to take pride in your creation and fight for it to be respected and valued.
You also have to be mindful that the people you are dealing with might be going through something of their own. Not everyone is going to be as excited as you are about your work. When you come up against these kinds of people it is important to stay strong and confident about yourself and your work.
On a slightly connected side note, here is a nice little story that makes a lot of sense and is something that I will try to remember every time I have a coffee.
Potatoes, Eggs and Coffee Beans
Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.
Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot and ground coffee beans in the third pot. He then let them sit and boil without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He took the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup.
Turning to her, he asked. “What do you see?” “Potatoes, eggs and coffee,” she hastily replied.
“Look closer”, he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft.
He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.
“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.
He explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity – the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently.
The potato went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak. The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard. However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.
“Which one are you?” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
The moral of the story:
In life, things happen around us, and things happen to us. The only thing that truly matters is your choice of how you react to it and what you make of it. Learn, adapt and choose to make the best of each experience.
© All photos shown have been taken by Rachel Kiernan and are not to be used without permission.