Hungarian Italian Abstraction (2008-2015)

Powder coated aluminium, mirror polished stainless steel, cast EPDM rubber with painted lines, paint, fixings, wall paint.

Commission for St Michael’s House Special National School, Raheny, Dublin

The work was developed for a special needs primary school to function in the playground as a multi-sensory artwork with several textures and abstract shapes to engage with.

The work functions as a piece of abstract sculpture and as a play zone for the pupils. Cast rubber EPDM on the ground provides a safe surface for play while also signalling that the sculpture can be interacted with as the material is used throughout the playground.

Within the history of public artworks for schools there has been an abundance of modernist murals type works and indeed abstract sculptures. These have mostly dated quite badly and draw little attention from the pupils visually or conceptually. I wanted to reference this history but make the geometry of modernism into something really practical, not rejecting the historical aesthetic completely but having some fun with it given the context of a primary school.

In 2009 for an exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin I had a work that was a painted abstraction – in some respects out of kilter with the rest of my practice to date. I described the work however as a “performative painting” as it was initially painted on the wall of my studio, then cut from the plasterboard wall and placed in the museum resting on top of a fireplace. The installation played with the idea of abstract painting, turning action painting into a precise geometric composition (instead of the usual splatter and splash approach). The hole is in the wall was also re-created nearby to give the impression of the action occurring quite recently and on site.

The piece was titled, Fragile Absolute #9: Hungarian Italian Abstraction (vertigo blue temporal event), 2009. The work has many reference points as it also began as part of a Process Room piece at IMMA in 2008 which used a photograph of a painting shot in a youth hostel during a holiday as a mouse-mat.  This was the beginning of my irreverent play with the modernist painting tradition. I have also recently used the geometric pattern for a large photographic work which is positioned on the floor, with additional circles added to act as placeholders for seven marble sculptures. I hope the design can be used in the future in another configuration.

The bright colours and invitation to play with the work are obviously derived from the context of a primary school. I would also be keen to work on other aspects of the design within the school environment.


The design was used for several sculpture competitions and proposals as well as used in other works including the base for the marble animal sculptures as well a development of this work called “Psychic Football from Liberica” 2018 [Vinyl, used coffee cups and lids with marker, 230 wide x 300 long x 30 high cm].

The first incarnation of it had a large vinyl floor photo which made it’s way back from Shanghai where it was used as a base for the marble sculptures when exhibited first. The quality and condition of it after it’s travels meant that I have not used it again. I cut out the photos of broken glass just to leave the lines.

The Seven Oracles was a piece made in response to the psychic animals that predicted the scores in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Paul the octopus being the most famous, but there were many more.Children’s toys carved in marble were placed on a white vinyl adhesive lines on the photo and then plywood in it’s second showing. This design originally came from a painting I came across in a hostel canteen in Italy and went to several reconfigurations to become a wall piece for a special needs school playground.

You know how I like to recycle ideas and works into new contexts well this is another such moment. I do however want to include some new elements, specifically some hand drawn coffee cups which bear the word “Liberica”. This is a coffee company from Indonesia which uses the name of a coffee bean brought back by Roger Casement from Congo for the National Botanical Gardens, Dublin. I have been drawing the logo on used paper coffee cups for the last few months. Part of residual Casement works I poke at occasionally. There are a dozen or so of these cups done, 4 in the pix but more if necessary. They are very hand drawn up close, but from a distance look corporate or printed.