t: +353 1 222 5552
t: +353 1 222 5552
I have often worked with rooms. 'The Waiting Room' is a new manifestation of 'Room for Waiting In', an installation made for the group show 'Rooms for Waiting In', with artists Garrett Phelan, Corban Walker and Grace Weir, curated by Michael Dempsey at Galway Arts Centre in the summer of 2005.
The installation at Galway consisted of a dimmed naked light bulb softly illuminating the beautiful first floor drawing room of Lady Gregory's townhouse in Dominick Street. The shutters were closed over the two tall windows preventing the natural light from flooding the exquisite Georgian interior. Inside was structure, privilege, a single light bulb, hope. Outside was the sun.
At The Hugh Lane 'The Waiting Room' is part of the gallery's 'Golden Bough' programme, a series of exhibitions, also curated by Michael Dempsey, centred on James George Frazer's influential masterwork of anthropology 'The Golden Bough' first published in 1890. 'The Waiting Room' is a response to Frazer's Chapter 1 in Book IV entitled 'Between Heaven and Earth '. In this chapter the reader encounters stories of sacred, noble or taboo persons who are forbidden to walk on or to touch the ground, to see the sun, or to have its light fall upon them. Priests, kings, bridegrooms, women after giving birth, chosen persons who, because of religion, folklore, myth or superstition were forced to exist for periods of time in the buoyant liminal space between earth and heaven or in the dark. These are the spaces that have fascinated me since I was a boy and the work that I have tried to make for many years has been inspired by the sky above us, the ocean of air that we are immersed in and our daily emergence into light.
One story at the end of 'Between Heaven and Earth' particularly resonates, that of 'Prince Sunless', and is so compelling that it deserves to be quoted at length:
'Arcananian peasants tell of a handsome prince called Sunless, who would die if he saw the sun. So he lived in an underground palace on the site of the ancient Oeniadae, but at night he came forth and crossed the river to visit a famous enchantress who dwelt in a castle on the further bank. She was loth to part with him every night long before the sun was up, and as he turned a deaf ear to all her entreaties to linger, she hit upon the device of cutting the throats of all the cocks in the neighbourhood. So the prince, whose ear had learned to expect the shrill clarion of the birds as the signal of the growing light, tarried too long, and hardly had he reached the ford when the sun rose over the Aetolian mountains, and its fatal beams fell on him before he could regain his dark abode.'
The beautiful oval room at The Hugh Lane, which currently acts as the 'Golden Bough' project room, is a Willie McKeown readymade. The room is not exactly a fake but things are not as they appear initially to the eye. Not Georgian, this gallery was part of the designs for the new galleries commissioned in 1929. It was designed to mirror the size and shape of the apsidal-ended plan of the Rockingham Library designed by James Gandon a century and a half before in 1788 and now lost. Gallery 6 on the opposite side of the sculpture hall, the twin of the 'Golden Bough' room, is built on the foundations of the Rockingham Library and is a palimpsest of its D-ended plan. The Rockingham Library was built as an annexe to the original structures and was accessed through an opening made in the 150 foot long breathtaking 'The Great Corridor' that then ran from the main house to Lord Charlemont's celebrated pavilion of libraries at the end of the garden. Along this long enclosed corridor windows opened views onto the garden while inside the corridor niches opposite the windows held statues. A linear travelling contemplation of culture and nature.
In 'The Waiting Room' I wanted to turn the focus of the space onto the apparently emerging light, the dawn, the vertical path leading out of the seductive trap of the room, the cockcrow warning of the unfurling of a space in the heart, a place of freedom and happiness, a place to breathe in the sky and to dance. Because dancing like breathing and singing live in that cleansing levitating space that exists between earth and heaven. The Waiting Room' is an antechamber to the dancehall. 'Here comes the Sun''
 ancient inhabitants of the area of western central Greece due south of the Gulf of Amvrakia.
 written in 1969 by George Harrison - " 'Here comes the Sun' was written at a time when Apple (Records) was getting like school, where we had to go to be businessmen: 'sign this' and 'sign that'. Anyway, it seems as if winter in England goes on forever, by the time spring comes you really deserve it. So one day I decided to sag off Apple and went over to Eric Clapton's house. The relief of not having to go see all those dopey accountants was wonderful and I walked around the garden with one of Eric's acoustic guitars and wrote 'Here comes the Sun' ".
Astronomer Carl Sagan had wanted 'Here comes the Sun' to be included on the 'Voyager Golden Record' attached to both Voyager* 1 and Voyager 2. Although the Beatles were all for the idea EMI refused to release the rights and neither space probes, launched in 1977 have a recording of the song on board.
*'The Untold Want' by Walt Whitman - 'The untold want by life and land ne'er granted, now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find'.
The Golden Bough ~ Curated by Michael Dempsey