Monday, February 5, 2007

Hazelwood Sculptures

Hazelwood, January 07
Walking throught the woods, deepest winter, all greys, browns, dun shades, dead leaves
like burnt paper rags blown across the path. Taking the sculpture trail I find the late James
McKenna's sculpture of Horses, Charioteers and a chariot, hand carved from wood, well I find the remains of this once extraordinary work - the poor charioteer - like a relic from another era - a broken wheel in the undergrowth nearby - the once proud horse, that somehow seemed to be in furious motion is long gone- it may have become too dangerous on the uneven muddy ground - what ever became of it? There is little to show of this once fine sculpture. James was a legendry character in the Irish artworld - utterly commited to his art. I remembered the sight of him cycling from his lodgings in Sligo town, through rain, hail, sleet and snow to finish his masterfull carving in the 1980's.
He worked on for months long after the sculpture symposium had ended and everyone had packed up and left. It's sad that the sculpture is now an empty space. I recalled kids clambering up the huge larger than life-size horse. Art like alot of things is temporary - yet it would have been great to preserve this piece. Further into the woods, Jackie McKenna's fine 'gateway' carving of Diarmuid & ; Grainne has weathered well, & is still enjoyed by visitors.
But the late Fred Conlons beautifully placed birds, once resting together on a plinth has long since been destroyed, not by the elements but by the repeated attacks of local vandals. There were two small seats on either side of the resting birds, which echoed the reclining bird shapes silloette of Sliabh Dha Eain across the lake - perfectly placed, these carvings were relentlessly targeted by the nihilists. Little remains - a sad commentry on the fate of public art in Ireland.
Other works have been reclaimed by nature - there imprint still visible - The Japanese stone carver - (name?) - who died soon after his work was done - left like miniature pyramids - reclaimed by foliage - subtle and simple as a zen garden - people don't even notice them now - but it's good to know they are still there - existing on in quietude.
The bleakness of the woods and the harsh treatment of the art that was created for the enjoyment of the public - both seemed to strike a melancholic note in Hazelwood - no doubt Mr Yeats, a white haired revenant in the smokey dusk - might have had something to say about our contemporary treatment of art - I could hear him rustling away into the dim glade as the wind picked up,  and we fed the swans, stars blinking on over halfmoon bay.

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