Session 5: Ardee Community College
Session 5: Coláiste Chú Chulainn
We began by looking at John Behan – Bullflight, Bronze, 2012. The group looked very closely at the sculpture and we discussed the techniques used in casting in bronze. How it was made in clay or wax first before being brought to the foundry to be cast in bronze. One group had previously taken casts and moulds of their hands in plaster and so were familiar with the casting process. Both groups were familiar with the story of The Táin and the Brown Bull of Cooley and its local context and were also familiar with Omin/ Barry Finnegan’s graffiti mural in the Market Square but had not looked at it in detail before.
I gave the background story as to how this artwork had been purchased by Louth County Collection. The story goes back 40 years – John Behan had been commissioned by a local patron to create a series of relief bronze sculptures which were displayed in the Metropole Hotel. These were donated to Dundalk Town Council in 1983 and were installed on the facade of the tourist office in Market Square, Dundalk. In 2011 the square was redeveloped and in consultation with the architects and street furniture designers the artworks were restored and re-instated in specially commisioned glass case as a main feature in the square. To celebrate this re-instatement of John Behan’s sculptures the artist was invited to present a solo exhibition of his work at the Basement Gallery, Dundalk. Bull Fight was purchased from this exhibition.
And then to continue the circularity of the story – local artist Barry Finnegan/ Omin was commissioned to respond to the theme of the Táin on the wall of the tourist office. So side by side on the Market Square you have two very different artist – one using very traditional materials and techniques and one using the most contemporary materials and techniques of graffiti art. We discussed how graffiti is usually seen as illegal, protest and outside of the official artworld.
We also looked at Peter Jay’s painting – Blue Murmur of the Hills as a more traditional representation of the local landscape but through looking at his technique and painting process decided this was a more about capturing an experience of the landscape, capturing the light moving across the landscape – maybe capturing a memory of the landscape rather than a straightforward depiction of the countryside.