Friday, 10 April 2015

Carlow

On the way to Waterford from Bray, there were a few things we wanted to see. Our first stop was Newbridge, to show my Mum and my daughter my husband's sculpture "Sentinel" as they had not seen it yet.


Our next stop was Carlow. Many years ago my husband and I had tried to find Browne's Hill (or Brownshill) dolmen, but now it has been nicely marked. Although it is within a field, it has it's own fenced off space, with seating, an OPW didactic, a parking area and a path leading up to it from the road.


It is quite a spectacular dolmen, in my opinion it far surpasses the famous Poulnabrone dolmen for both size and accessibility.The capstone is believed to be several hundred tons in weight, making it the heaviest in Ireland.


There is no barrier to keep you away from the dolmen, therefore you can notice puddles underneath reflecting sunlight onto the dolmen's belly. It was beautiful!


We also wanted to check out Visual, the arts centre in Carlow, which could easily belong in any big city. It was both impressive in space and the exhibition showing, Cosmic Dust, a group show, In an upstairs gallery a triple film, The Floating World by Clare Langan, was haunting. Outside of Visual was a large sculpture, The Medusa Tree, by Eileen McDonagh.


Lennon's, the restaurant adjoining Visual, is a great place to have lunch. I thought the artwork on display in the restaurant looked very familiar, and taking a closer look realised it was the work of Karen Hendy, an artist who had stayed with us for a few days in January, as Umha Aois (a project with which both my husband, James Hayes, and Karen's partner, Holger Lonze, are involved) were giving demonstrations at the Ninth Experimental Archaeology Conference held at University College Dublin. Here is one of the paintings on view, from Karens "Littoral Series".


After lunch we went to take a look at Carlow castle which is beautifully impressive despite being only a ruin with two towers and one wall.


The castle is accessible by stairs from the street and then a winding path around it. Along the path are a number of etched plates which act as information didactics. Below, the plate is showing the two towers and wall still standing in relation to a floor plan of the original castle. The OPW (Office of Public Works) is responsible for the site, so I imagine they were also responsible for the clever planting -- shrubbery is being trained to take on the shape of the rest of the castle.


Across the road from the castle is a large sculpture. Unfortunately, I could not find any identifying plaque which gave any information on the piece nor could any mark be found identifying the artist. For the Newbridge piece (picture above) my husband taught himself how to electro-etch his name onto the back of the sculpture in order to have his identity clearly associated with the work. This is something I think that more artists are starting to consider as not every piece of public sculpture gets an information plaque.