Urban Oasis was recently selected as the winning idea for a series of large scale sculptures at Surfers Paradise, City of Gold Coast, Queensland Australia. I am very excited to have been awarded this project!
Alex Pentek. Urban Oasis. 2016. Stainless steel with ground elements / LED lighting. H.11 m.
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.