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WORK OF THE WEEK | 26 May 2020

CAG.1414 Vivienne Roche, Viapori Bell, 1991, bronze and steel, 236 cm. Presented, Friends of the Crawford Art Gallery, 1991. © the artist

This WORK OF THE WEEK is the first artwork that visitors encounter – sometimes even ring! – on visiting the gallery.

The distinctive form and sound of Viapori Bell (1991) by Vivienne Roche transports us in time and place.

The title refers to the eighteenth-century sea fortress of Viapori (Suomenlinna or Sveaborg), which is located southeast of the Finnish capital of Helsinki. While the smooth, narrow form of the bell's housing echoes this defensive architecture, the bell itself appears more organic and rougher hewn.

"All my themes," the artist has noted, "are subsumed in my basic concern with duality. The general oppositions on show – male/female, object/ritual, line/mass, steel/bronze, etc. – express my need to unify something that is fragmented. Some kind of fusion of self with world. A spiritual need, very simple and largely inexplicable."

Viapori Bell (1991) is a product of Roche's travels in Scandinavia and consciously rekindles earlier, medieval contact between Ireland and the Nordic countries. Although it is itself an earlier work in the artist's career, it holds a strong resonance with her more recent series of Climate Bells inspired by President Michael D. Higgins' address at the Summit of Conscience for Climate in 2015.

Co-founder of the National Sculpture Factory, Vivienne Roche is a member of Aosdána and the Royal Hibernian Academy. She lives and works near the sea in County Cork.

Tune in to The Arts House with Elmarie Mawe on Cork’s 96FM and C103FM every Sunday morning as Conor Tallon chats with assistant curator Michael Waldron about each WORK OF THE WEEK! Listen back to this week's chat here: 

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