Saturday, 19 February 2011


 When you go to the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) you can't miss this aluminium art installation on the way from the car park to the main entrance.  The artist is Eamonn O'Doherty from Ireland who has sculptures in a number of cities in Ireland and also in Liverpool and New York ... His work is always on a large scale.  "The Tapers" stand five metres high!
For the city of Londonderry he created "The Emigrants".  (Eamonn was born in Derry)  These seven figures represent the two great periods of Irish emigration in the eighteenth and late nineteenth centuries.  In the design he incorporated books and a fiddle to represent some of the cultural baggage that people took with them to their new homes.

Working in stainless steel Eamonn designed "The Swans" for Antrim Area Hospital.
This too speaks on different levels with a reference to the ancient Irish legend of 'The Children of Lir' as well as the sense of continuity of the migrating birds, returning each year.  Large colonies of swans are to be found on the nearby Lough Neagh.

His bronze on granite Anna Livia fountain stood in central Dublin for a number of years until it was relocated to Croppy Memorial Gardens.  In O'Connell Street it attracted litter, vandalism and a lot of soapy detergent!  The figure was given many nicknames, for example the Floozy in the Jacuzzi (the artist's own description) or the Hoor in the Sewer.
So "The Tapers" from 1997 at the RVH is just one of Eamonn O'Doherty's creations.  I've not been able to find much about this sculpture which was erected to mark the celebration of the Royal's bicentenary.  
Maybe this is where the observer's imagination comes into play?  From a distance it looks remarkably like some grass standing up to all kinds of weather.
If anyone knows what the artist had in mind I'd be very interested to find out.
 Meanwhile, every time I visit someone in the RVH I'll think of this modest Irish artist whose work commands a high price and yet he is relatively obscure and wouldn't necessarily be linked with the work that is admired so much around the country.
 The RVH is full of art ... photographs on the walls ... designs on the floors ... sculptures in the entrance ... laminates on windows.  It all contributes to making it a pleasant place for visitors as well as for patients.
Each corridor has its own design ... here on the seventh level the red and grey pattern includes a labyrinth just outside the block of lifts.  I could imagine walking around this while waiting for the lift - especially if you were a small child!
There is so much beauty around us in the natural world as well as that created by human beings.  It is not surprise that we want to make attractive objects ...  it is simply a reflection of having been made 'in the image of God' so we share that same creative spirit that was active in the beginning.
My guess is that almost everyone responds to beauty.  Art, sculpture, design draw from us a response that brings pleasure and joy.  Even in times of economic stress, maybe especially in such times, we need something on which to focus that is going to remind us of the eternal truths, the greater themes.
We need to allow the creative part of our nature to emerge.  For some it will be the creation of beautiful music or exquisite objects in fabric or food ... others will paint or sculpt ... some will doodle or design patterns ... or maybe telling stories and writing poetry ... there is no end to a list of creative talents ...
So brush, chisel, needle or fiddle ... whatever your "tool" ... use your talent to the glory of God!

Lord of beauty, thine the splendour
shown in earth and sky and sea,
burning sun and moonlight tender,
hill and river, flower and tree:
lest we fail our praise to render
touch our eyes that they may see.

Church Hymnal number 29
Cyril A Alington (1872-1955)


Anonymous said...

what a very interesting and well thought out post.. When the weather is finer I must nip back into London and visit the Portrait Gallery..on my 'to do' list now that I have read your post..Judyx

Rev Elizabeth said...

Love that place! Wish I lived nearer and we could meet up .... maybe when the weather is finer I'll do a day trip....

Kelly Smith-Moore said...

"The Swans" sculpture is awesome! Your photos remind me of some of the beautiful outdoor sculptures at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, USA.

Rev Elizabeth said...

Hi Kelly... sounds like my kind of place ... I adore large outside sculptures....

Loey said...

Love all the sculpture photos. So many talented people.

Rev Elizabeth said...

Yes Lois ... but everyone has talent too that we can use! Perhaps not just in such spectacular ways!!