The concept for To the People of the Sea reflects Portrush's rich maritime culture and the boat building history of the East Strand site. It celebrates the elements that have determined the daily life of the local community for generations: boats and the sea. The iconic Drontheim yawl serves as a metaphorical vessel for sea-related imagery for this work: sails and ocean waves. Repoussé bronze and 316 stainless steel with blue patina and gold leaf. 15ft (4m) high x 20ft x 10ft.
The project completed a $1.2m public realm and development scheme of the East Strand Promenade and the design was chosen due to its relevance and suitability both to site and its users. To the People of the Sea takes its inspiration from both sails and the sea alike: the iconic Drontheim sails become a metaphor for the surface of the ocean behind; the flapping sails metamorph into crests of breaking waves as the bellowing sail canvas is turned into sheets of glistening bronze. The sculpture is a metaphorical vessel for sea-related imagery that offers many angles of interpretation: It suggests a sea creature emerging out of the depth of Irish mythology and awakes associations with prehistoric megaliths brought to this coast by early seafarers. Its vertical surface of an angry ocean is a reminder of climate change as well as legendary voyages that passed through the historic waters of Moyle while the deep blue colour gives a glimpse of the depth of the ocean.
Workshops involved a research session with a story teller and two commission-related sessions making artwork for the school. The project also involved collaborative research with members of the community and boating heritage groups to ensure technical and historical accuracy of the sculpture. The local surfing community provided knowledge of local wave conditions. The challenge of employing a jewellery process (repoussé) on a monumental scale was resolved by a team of skilled and experienced craftspeople and fabricators to an extremely tight schedule of seven weeks of fabrication.
Project website: www.peopleofthesea.info. Materials and processes in combination with long-term durability were chosen to limit the environmental impact and carbon footprint of the sculpture, combining environmental and cultural sustainability.
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