Client: Cork County Council
Location: Cork, Ireland
Completion date: 2015
Artwork budget: $108,075
This idea is my response to the history of the Choctaw Nation’s donation of $170 to Ireland during the famine in 1847.
By creating an empty bowl symbolic of the Great Irish Famine formed from the seemingly fragile and rounded shaped eagle feathers used in Choctaw ceremonial dress, I have also chosen feathers to reflect the local bird life along the nearby water’s edge with a fusion of ideas that aims to visually communicate this act of humanity, and the notion that the Choctaw and Irish Nations are forever more kindred spirits.
This was a site specific project and it was my aim for the work visually integrate the chosen theme with the surroundings. As a mark of respect to the histories of the famine and the trail of tears I chose a fusion of imagery that was given a hand tooled finish to show that the work was made by hand. Together with the scale of the work this aims to communicate the importance of these histories with a human element evident in the material finish. It was also important for the work to enhance the surround public space and to reflect the surrounding bird life on the nearby estuary. In this way the surrounding location also became an integral part of my over all design.
The design process began with the chosen theme of the 1847 donation to give the work local, national and international significance. After my idea was selected, I increased the height from 5 m to 6 m based on feedback from the jury to increase visibility from the nearby motorway. I then worked closely with the project engineer to specify foundations and holding down fixings to achieve the cantilevered bowl shape from the nine feathers, factoring local wind loading. The hand tooled surface finish was achieved by a team lead by me at my studio in the National Sculpture Factory, where the work was made. Lighting was designed in liaison with a local lighting company who supplied sample lights for me to test on the work. To safely transport the work, I loaded the sculptures in consultation with a local transport company. I also worked closely with the contractor in foundation design & pouring, and also unloading & installation of the work by a local crane hire company.
I was contacted by Choctaw Chief Gary Batton to thank me for remembering the history of the 1847 donation, and to offer his support by being available to travel to Ireland and be present at the planned official launch ceremony. To think that this work has received such national & international recognition including news media such as the Washington Times and with over 20k likes and shares on social media means a lot to me and this project. A short video using drone footage of the work can be seen on the following link; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2f8gmuhpGgk