I posted a year or so ago about the Creatures of Fenor Bog a small array of wood carved creature-a heron and three dragonflies-in and around the bog at Fenor village just outside Tramore in the south-east of Ireland. Since then local sculptor, John Hayes has been hard at work with his chainsaw and chisels in the ground of Fenor church hard by the bog.
The object of his attention was an old tree in the graveyard which the parish council had asked him to consider for a project after it had suffered storm damage. John fashioned it into decorative niche for a carving of the virgin Mary topped by a pair of hands releasing a dove and a pinnacle of angels, the undulating line of their robes echoing the folds of the great trunk, the tips of their wing feathers, like leaves, reaching for the sky.
Though it is a religious item you don’t have to be religious to appreciate the wonder of it. Back in the day the church was one of the great sponsors of the arts. It was the arts that was the vehicle for the awe that the faithful wished to experience. With industrialisation and secularisation of the world artists were cut loose from their sponsors and the experience of awe does not necessarily have to be bound to faith but that does not mean the two never meet I suppose.
For anyone who thinks the arts are useless or superflous to our daily existence I suggest a visit to Fenor, or any sculpture park or garden, and see how such a simple idea as a few works in situ can create an environment that buoys the, awakens the wonder of the child inside and will doubtless spark off inspiration of all kinds in the years to come.
For me, as familiar as I am now with Johns carvings, even a flashing glimpse of his vision can bleed colour into an otherwise dull day and who wouldn’t want that?