I am very pleased to have recently installed this work in Washington DC. This work was selected by interntional competition to reflect the acheivements of black activist Charles Hamilton Houston, and his belief in an integrated world. Looking at Floriography, (the symbolic meaning of plants and flowers), I chose to depict an Allium, the symbol of unity, and staying true to one’s principles during times of adversity;- as a metaphor for Houston’s life and achievements. The surface of the sphere is divided by the underlying geometry of a 20 sided icosahedron into 482 flowers, whose curved edges create the interlocking circles found in scared geometry.
Working closely with the wonderful fabricators at Red Pepper Forge near DC, and the Department of General Services team, the work was made remotely following detailed step-by-step fabrication drawings I provided. Engineering specifications were completed by Bill Yun & Associates Consulting Engineers, and all images were kindly taken by architect Don Gregory, with Cox Graae + Spack Architects.
An feature on this project in the Irish Examiner with more details about this idea can be seen on the following link:
The Egg Pavilion:
2019 – I created a pop up pavilion by direct invitation for Design Pop Festival, Celebrating Cork as a centre of contemporary design during May 2019. From the development above, the Egg Pavilion folds to form either an abstract origami egg which transforms to become a temporary pavilion. For more information see Design Pop
Many thanks to Amy McKeogh, Design Pop Festival, & Cork City Council for making this possible. Huge thanks also to Graepels, RoseAnne Kydney, Phillip Cronin, Dominic Fee, Dermot Browne and John Meldron for their invaluable help.
Urban Oasis was selected as the winning idea for a series of large scale sculptures at Surfers Paradise, City of Gold Coast, Queensland Australia. I was very excited to have been awarded this project!
Montage view of work in context. Alex Pentek.
Alex Pentek, Studio image at the National Sculpture Factory, Cork, Ireland. Image Cathal Noonan.
Work in the studio ready for shipping to Australia… One of the largest series of sculptures to have left these shores, the work traveled in 2 shipping containers from Cork, Rotterdam, across the Atlantic through the panama canal, then across the pacific passing the Fiji Islands to Brisbane Australia. The work is now in storage until the high profile location in Gold Coast has been refurbished and connected to the Light Rail System.
Big thanks to Sean Clarke, (previous Director of Arup Berlin), Arup Cork, London and Brisbane offices who made this project possible!
Kindred Spirits. 2015. Hand tooled finished stainless steel. H 6m. (Work in progress & views of recently completed commission for Midleton, County Cork, Ireland).
A short video about the project was created by The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma during their visit to Ireland in 2017, when Chief Garry Batton and members of his council and tribe received official recognition at the official launch where over 1,000 people attended.
(The works shown being made in the video are actually ferns for Urban Oasis, Australia).
With six welds for each vein, it took over 20,000 welds to complete the entire work.
(Image Brian Martin).
(Image Brian Martin).
This idea was recently selected for Midleton, County Cork, Ireland, and is my response to the history of the Choctaw Nation’s help to Ireland during the famine in 1847, when they sent $170 to help to feed the Irish starving men women and children. It was only 16 years earlier when the Choctaw were forced from their native land by the American government in what is now known as the trail of tears, making this act of kindness even more significant.
By creating an empty bowl symbolic of the Great Irish Famine formed from the seemingly fragile and rounded shaped eagle feathers used in Choctaw ceremonial dress, it is my aim to communicate the tenderness and warmth of the Choctaw Nation who provided food to the hungry when they themselves were still recovering from their own tragic recent past.
I have also chosen feathers to reflect the local bird life along the nearby water’s edge with a fusion of ideas that aims to visually communicate this act of humanity and mercy, and also the notion that the Choctaw and Irish Nations are forever more kindred spirits.
A walk-through of this idea and recent drone footage taken by Brian Martin can be seen on the following links:
Forget Me Not. Belfast City Cemetery Decorative Artwork Commission.
Building Peace Through the Arts: Re-Imaging Communities Project. 2015.
This project was part-financed by the European Union’s PEACE III programme managed by SEUPB; the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; and the International Fund for Ireland
Forget Me Not
This site specific idea grew from the themes of ‘Life’ and ‘Time’, as chosen by local groups and stakeholders from a public consultation process. When I visited the cemetery I was moved by the poignancy of the location and it struck me that the forget-me-not flower, a very often overlooked plant, might be the perfect symbol for the surrounding unmarked plots; Both moving through time yet frozen in time.
The graceful form of these forget-me-not flowers captures the fragility of life as they reach towards the light and begin to open. Also traditionally symbolizing remembrance, true love and memories these two flowers, fabricated from bronze coated stainless steel will form an archway and entrance to the surrounding ‘poor ground’ plots, where many young children and infants are also buried. (Originally shown in the baby public plot, this location was changed to another more inclusive and central poor ground plot within the cemetery).
I am interested in the relevance of the interplay between the real-life scale of these tiny flowers and the visual impact of seeing them represented in heroic scale in the sculpture. Not greatly valued as a flower, the notion of making them in precious metals has implication for how we now consider the status or value of the surrounding ‘poor ground’ areas.