Monday, 14 April 2014

Meitheal na hAbhann: A Collective Gathering on the River

As the event grew closer, the energy surrounding the Iron R 2 project was palpable and the excitement/anxiety about how it would go off was overwhelming. Everything needed to fall into place as designed and there were factors out of any control, namely the weather, which has been very rainy and windy in the months before and the weeks that I've been in Cork.  All of the moving parts of the event involved coordination that began over a year ago with James, CCAD, the NSF, the City of Cork, and countless other meetings.  The site was ready, the insurance was covered, the safety brigade was requested, the sculpture was finished, the furnace was prepped, the molds were dressed, the sound was tuned, the film crew were ready, and  the audience had arrived. It was go time, and what a time it was! High resolution images by Alan Murphy, video by Lisa Evans.   
Video Teaser



Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The build up

The weekend before Iron R2 was a busy one where we tested the small furnace that James enthusiastically calls Axel F, after one of his admired Munster Rugby heros.  The first Iron R in 2012 featured a much larger furnace he calls the Bull, after another Munster Rugby player.  I've been to a few matches and they are a spectacle. Last one was on March 29 in Dublin and was a gift from James and Kirstie for my birthday.

Mara and Lynn have been working to make the sculptural wooden molds that will integrate into Ronan's welded standards. Its been great to work with these guys and they are full of enthusiasm.  They have added bright ideas and good cheer to these pieces which will undoubtably make the event even more successful.

The transformation of the lamp post / standard / pillar / fulcrum has been dramatic. As mentioned in an earlier post, I needed to reduce the height of the post to make it easier to work during the event. I cut away 7 inches of the bottom that, unfortunately, happened to have the name of the foundry and the date it was cast (1882). It was a shame but it is in better proportion with the lever and a little lower in order for me to grasp the handle. 

After Mick sandblasted the post, the rain came and turned it a dark greenish hue, then blueish, and then it settled into a rich brown.  Once it dried, an amazing orange rust is left on the surface. It almost shines in a few spots.  Still not sure why the oxidation started off as a few variations blue (not the same as the paint), but it would have been nice to get photos of the various states of color. The aluminum additions are bright silver and show parts of the restoration from back in the 1970's (?).

Signed by the restorer (?) in a stainless weld

The parts are coming together... and the balance is key... 

Graffiti on the blog

Devolution of man

The week of Iron R 2!

The National Sculpture Factory & CIT/ Crawford College of Art & Design


Meitheal na hAbhann : 
A Collective Gathering on the River

A Performance By Matt Toole

Soundscapes by Mick O’Shea & Alex Pentek

April 10th Thurs Night 8:00 - 9:30 pm
Kennedy Quay , On The Waterfront.

Matt Toole’s interest in the transformation of materials has inspired a series of performance events that highlight the moment when a work of art is created. Focusing on the process of casting iron, his performances serve not only as a means to create objects but to connect the resulting objects to the actions that manifested them. 

In an effort to bring a sculpture’s inception to light, the act, or ritual, functions to de-emphasize the manufacture of the object as the sole purpose for the act. In these performances the structures used to melt, pour, and receive the molten metal essentially function as artworks that create other works of art; utilising fire as a means of destruction while simultaneously employing it as an instrument of origination. Most often the event is a tribute to the rite of creative expression, focusing on the power of a collective experience rather than that of an individual artist acting alone to create.

For the Iron R2 project, Matt will work in cooperation with CCAD students and visiting artists to create a waterfront performance that is indicative of his contraption based events engendering not only his process driven performative work but the collaborative, transformative ethos of Iron R2.

This is an out-door performance so please dress appropriately. This event may be postboned due to adverse weather conditions and will be re-programmed for the same time on Saturday 12th April.
Please check our website for further announcements.

Matt Toole would graciously like to thank Mick Wilkins (artist) for his support & incredibly generosity; Ronan Bradbury, Mara Muller Tolk and Lynn Dennehy (students from CCAD) for all their work on the pyres; James Hayes and the rest of the CCAD staff for making a new furnace, Axel, for this event.; Mick O'Shea (Sound artist) and Alex Pentek (artist) for their soundscape collabroation; and finally Donal Dilworth (NSF) without whose help this performance would not have materialised

Special thanks to the overall Iron R2 crew :

IR2 Panel : EilĂ­s O’Connell (Artist) and Patrick T. Murphy (Director at the RHA Gallery)

(SCAD) Matt Toole; (CCAD/CIT) Orla Flynn, Trish Brennan, Fergal Goulding, Trevor Whelan, Liam Rice, Debbie Dawson, Roisin Collins, John Cronin, Pat O’Shea; (MCP) Gerry Wycherley & Diarmuid O’Sullivan; (Cork Rent A Van) John Seaman; (Carey Tools) Ken Carey; (McCarthy Insurance Group) Peter Kirwan; (Hurrah Hurrah) Robin; Asgrove Recycling; Tipperary Water; (Cork City Council) Martin O’Brien; Mick Wilkins; (The Guest House) Mick O’Shea & Irene 

Murphy; Brian Cronin; Coughlan’s Bar; Cork Film Centre; Cork Civil Defense.

IR2 Project Team : James L. Hayes; Mary McCarthy; Dobz O’Brien; Donal Dilworth; Elma O’Donovan; Fiona Hegarty; John Booth; Sarah Kelleher.

 David Dobz O'Brien Programmes Manager National Sculpture Factory, Albert Rd, Cork City. 00 353 (0)21 4314353 00 353 (0)87 934 2911

Sunday, 6 April 2014

In the thick of it all

This week was a big week for work in the Factory and I am happy to see the various components of the project coming together.  James organized a presentation for me at the Crawford College of Art and Design and spoke to students about Ferrous Communitas: The Iron People and about SCAD. I Met with Alex Pentek and Mick O'Shea to talk about the soundscape component of the performance. On the same day, I met with Brian Cronin to talk about making a short film of the event. You can see more of Brian's work at: And finally, we acquired the lamp base as Donal worked his magic to have it delivered to the Factory by the City workers!  Work is intense and lasts throughout the day and into the night and I couldn't be more excited to be here in this place. It is remarkable to have been afforded this opportunity and James has worked tirelessly to make it happen. 

The morning starts with a walk down Richmond Hill and ends with a walk back up. Down is much easier! The walk is a great way to organize my thoughts and prepare for the work I have ahead in the day. 


The presentation at CCAD was well attended and students were interested in learning more about SCAD.


Back at the Factory the lamp post needed a slight alteration to make it fit the scale of the lever and to make it easier to work during the event.  It was a tough call to make because I didn't want to alter the casting any further, but I have to remove the base that had the name of the company and the date, Harris Co Cork 1882. This piece of history had been moved and refurbished from its original location on the Parnell Street bridge dating back to 1882.  When Cork built a new Bridge in 1971 they kept a few of the unbroken lamps to occupy a small park at the North end of the bridge.  I imagine that the lamp we found was refitted with new fish tail parts, this time cast in aluminum, and moved to a different site.  Sand blasting away the blue paint led to a few other discoveries in that it was once painted gold and it has the name Jack Lynch welded with stainless steel in the base... likely done in the 70's during its refurbishing.  The image below is from the Cork City Council and the Cork Camera Club Historical Photographs. 



Mick Wilkins is a machine! This project owes a lot to Mick and his enduring effort. 

Graffiti on the blog

More great street art from Cork

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Found objects in the city

Greetings on the morning walk to the Factory

On occasion, the powers that be provide just what you need to make things go well. Certainly, the staff at the Factory are doing their best to make things go well for this project. Today Donal and I went out for a drive to the city council (management) yards in search of a piece of Cork history for the fulcrum base.  I have been photographing lamp posts in Dublin and Cork and really hope to find a lamp or bollard to integrate into the sculpture.  The first yard had little of what I wanted and after talking with the attendant he mentioned that pieces of historic city "furniture" were rarely seen and almost certainly would not be found.  The second yard was closed and as we drove off the man (or as they say in Cork, yur-man) arrived and let us in. This place did not look any more hopeful but we walked around anyhow and lo and behold, Donal found just what I wanted.  A piece of Cork history and exactly the lamp post I had photographed and posted earlier.  Cast by Harris and Co. Cork 1882, it is exquisite with dolphins and decorative plant forms similar to some of the downspouts in Savannah. It is a perfect addition to make the sculpture more relevant to this place and time.  I hope I can get it...

Old gas lamp in a Cork city park... note the date.  This is the one that Donal found and I want it!
The hard part is moving it because it is attached to an enormous concrete block. Donal knows good people in the Council that can make it happen. Very excited about this part.

I've been sketching  columns, pillars, and posts for a little while. Vertical components for bases and molds

Thinking about a hierarchy of building materials starting with stone at the bottom moving up through iron and bronze, concrete and steel.


Steel lever and stone counter weight.  Mick is a pro with stone and is carving it beautifully. 

Graffiti on the blog

Gotta love this one!