Bronze only edition of 5
width 154 x 33cm
The Skellig Islands are two lonely rocks seven miles off the south-west coast of Ireland - the most westerly point of Europe.
One is, and has always been, home only to a gannet colony.
The larger rock, Skellig Michael (now a Unesco World Heritage Site) was host to an early Christian monastic settlement from the seventh to twelfth centuries. It towers out of the sea for 712 near-vertical feet and the bare stone monastic cells, church and graveyard are still accessible (with difficulty) at the top of the six hundred steps cut into the rock.
The isolated and harsh life of these island monks conjures a haunting image. We know nothing of their biographical details and can only guess at the diverse backgrounds they might have left behind. All we can know for certain is that each would have had to cross the rough seas in a small and probably crude vessel. Even now, there are few days of the year when conditions are suitable for a boat to land on the island. Some might have made the journey only once. Some would surely have perished in so doing.
The wooden pieces which made up this sculpture (from which the bronze was cast) were all given up by the sea and collected from the beach where I walk my dogs every morning (on the south west coast of Wales, looking out across the sea to Ireland).
Each piece of wood has its own mystique and poetry and silent history and my challenge was to bring together the individual anonymity of the pieces into a coherent form - a new incarnation in commemoration and celebration of the stoical Skellig monks.
George Bernard Shaw said of Skellig Michael :-
“. . . . . .the thing does not belong to any world that you and I have lived and worked in; it is part of our dream world.”