The Haunting Soldier

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He is us. He is the common man, not linked to any race, politics and certainly not to the love of War.                                                                                                                Jo Oliver

As we commemorate the Centenary of the ending of the Great War in November the arrival of the towering giant bronze sculpture of The Haunting Soldier to Dublin’s St Stephens Green Park is one of the most powerful and fitting tributes to all those who served and fought and died during the Great War.

Sculptor and blacksmith Martin Galbany’s imposing six metre tall weathered and weary soldier made from scrap metal which towers over the park has attracted huge crowds, all falling silent under his tired gaze.

Designed and constructed at Dorset’s Forge and Fabrication by Martin and metal worker Chris Hannam, he is made up mostly of scrap metal with his uniform and kit and rifle and boots made up from wrenches, car jacks, spanners, hammers, tools, bellows, nuts and bolts and chains.

As you pass through the stone Fusilier Arch entrance to St Stephen’s Green it is a truly emotional experience to encounter him and to come face to face with this exceptional art piece.  There are no words to describe the emotions, sadness and sense of remembrance that he invokes as you study his eyes and face and every aspect of this haunting figure.

Huge thanks are due to Sabina Purcell, whose own family were involved in the Great War, for her determination to bring The Haunting Soldier to Dublin for the Centenary Commemoration of the ending of a War which claimed millions of lives. Thanks are also due to writer JO Oliver who first commissioned this unique sculpture and agreed to let it come to Dublin for the month of November.

A special Stand Down ceremony which is open to the public will be held in St Stephens Green at 3.15pm on Sunday 25th November 2018. As the sun goes down people will gather with a bugler, music and readings to say farewell to The Haunting Soldier before his return to England.

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John Behan’s ‘Seven Ages of Man’ Sculpture Exhibition

 

john-behanIt is always exciting and though provoking to get the opportunity to view the new work of John Behan one of Ireland’s foremost sculptors which are on view in Dublin’s Solomon Gallery.

In this exhibition John Behan manages to both move and challenge us with his stunning pieces of sculpture. Opened by President Michael D Higgins this show displays all the depth and character of Behan’s work as an artist still driven by his love and compassion for humanity.

Just as his incredible bronze famine ships continue to depict the ghostly exile of Ireland’s Great Famine emigrants sailing to new shores, Behan having conducted art workshops in the Eleonas  refugee camp in Athens which houses over 2,000 Syrian refugees has  been inspired to chart new journeys .

This time with a number of magnificent bronzes Behan has captured the plight of desperate migrants on flimsy overcrowded ribs, dinghies and boats desperate to flee war-torn Syria in the hope of finding refuge and peace.  The lonely figure of a man lifts the doll like figure of a small child taken from the sea.

In his series ‘The Seven Ages of Man’ Behan returns to one of his favourite figures the bull, and as in William Shakespeare’s famous words, he depicts the ever changing form and figure of the bronze bull, from its early days of vitality and strength, vigour and power to eventual old age and weakness and frailty.

As John Behan celebrates his eightieth birthday, he not only continues to make art and to sculpt, but continues to inspire us all.

Blazing a Trail…Irish Women Who Changed the World

IMG_3928What an amazing launch in Dun Laoghaire’s Lexicon Library for Sarah Webb’s wonderful new book Blazing a Trail…Irish Women Who Changed The World.

Sarah and talented Illustrator Lauren O’Neill have shone a light on 28 amazing intelligent, hardworking, pioneering Irish women who have influenced people both at home here in Ireland and across the world.

In terms of design, Blazing a Trail is visually stunning and an exhibition of Lauren’s illustrations from the book is currently on display at the Lexicon.

Sarah has done a huge job in compiling, researching and finding out more about these incredible women some of whom I’m ashamed to admit I was not even aware of.

From Maureen O’Hara, Sybill Connolly, Eileen Grey, Nellie Cashman, Aleen Cust, the list I promise is truly varied and this is a book that deserves to be read by girls of all ages.

Ossian Smyth Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Librarian Marian Keyes helped to launch the book alongside O’Brien Press Editor Aoife Walsh.  There was a great surprise when a few members of Sarah’s talented young writers group, complete with wigs and costume, entertained us with dramatized scenes from the lives of three of these remarkable women.   What a brilliant night and what a brilliant book!