Oxen of the Sun #1
Oxen of the Sun #1 (2015) lime fresco on reinforced plaster, 70 x 37 x 23 cm
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4 studies for Oxen of the Sun
4 studies for Oxen of the Sun (2015) watercolour on paper, each 10 x 15 cm
Drowning Sailors
Drowning Sailors (2015) engraved ox bone with oil scumble, 24 x 10 x 4 cm


Oxen of the Sun – Odyssey Project, ongoing

On several occasions Odysseus is disobeyed by his men and it usually ends in disaster. This is the last time his crew will go against his orders as none of them survive the episode.

Taking refuge on the island of Thrinacia, Odysseus issues to his men a strict injunction against harming the sacred cattle of the sun god Helios. They get hungry of course and ignore the warnings, killing and roasting the animals. All but Odysseus gorge themselves on the forbidden flesh and when they set sail again he is the only one that survives the storm sent by Zeus to punish them.

I see this as being about the confusion between the spiritual and the temporal, like the people who read sacred texts as if they were instruction manuals, often wreaking havoc in the world and bringing misery instead of enlightenment.

I have approached 2 aspects of this part of the story. Creating an image of the cattle, I felt they had to be something extraordinary with patterns alien to anything in nature. Some of my studies look at the principle exploited in ‘dazzle’ camouflage, of breaking up a shape with random illogical patterning. Another finished piece uses the chaos of the rubbish tip to take the animal out of the natural world – as if it had entered another dimension.

Scratching images and designs into wood, rock or bone is one of the oldest activities in our creative history. In the sequel to the desecration of the sacred cattle I have chosen bone engravings to depict the demise of the sailors. I used ox bones found on river Thames beaches at low tide; they have a ready made patina which I augment with an oil scumble.

Group Exhibition; Mediation on Plates, Irish Pavillion at Expo, Milan
Kohler Arts/Industry award, 3 month residency in cast-iron, enamel & ceramics, WI, USA.
Commission to design permanent artwork for new exhibition centre in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Commission to design St Patrick’s Day postage stamp for An Post, Ireland.


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