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Ballymun Equestrian Project

- 2010

"John was commissioned to make an artwork through 'Breaking Ground' as part of the regeneration of Ballymun. From the beginning of 2006 he researched ways to realise a large horse and rider sculpture depicting a young female bareback rider to be erected permanently on a plinth in Ballymun. Early in the year he sourced an existing equestrian monument in Northumberland, England but originally sited in Dublin's Phoenix Park (The Gough Memorial). This had been sculpted by the well-known Irish artist John Henry Foley whose other work included The O'Connell Monument, statues of Goldsmith and Burke outside Trinity College and The Albert Memorial in London.

The Gough statue had been erected in 1880 as a memorial to Limerick- born Viscount Field Marshall Gough and eventually destroyed in an explosion in 1957. It's remains came into the possession of it's current owner Sir Humphrey Wakefield (a relative of Gough's) in the 1980's and was subsequently restored and re-erected in the grounds of his Castle at Chillingham in 1990. Sir Humphrey kindly gave me permission to make a copy the sculpture (which is 150% life size) A team from Bronze Age foundry in the east end of London travelled up to Northumberland and over a week, of long working days, made moulds of the horse.

He worked with Metropolitan Works, a business operating within the campus of London Metropolitan University. They specialise in laser scanning, proto typing and cnc object milling. They will use state of the art body-scanning technology to take in highly detailed information on our (real life) girl model. This was processed on computer and milled out as a realistic synthetic model to the same scale as the horse. Traditional moulds of this will then be made by the foundry and matched up with the moulds taken from the horse. An accurate combining of rider and horse was made possible in wax.

The decision to manufacture in the east end of London was largely determined by the scanning company’s presence there and their need to work in close proximity with a foundry. Fortunately the campus was situated very close to Bronze Age Foundry (www.bronzeage.co.uk) in Lime House which had a great reputation and a particularly expertise in figurative work.

Auditions for a teenage girl to act as the model for the new rider were held. The criteria for selection was that she should be from Ballymun, have a genuine interest in horses and ponies and be within a height and age limit. Other considerations were her ability to be directed, poise and availability to travel to London. Auditions took place at the Kill Equestrian Centre in Co Kildare involving the girls being photographed on a horse similar to Foley’s Arabian stallion. A 16 year old from the area was chosen and travelled to London to be scanned. The young woman and horse have been matched up in wax and then (through lost wax process) to bronze. The Sculpture was finally completed in early 2009. In late April it was transported to Dublin and is now located in a warehouse awaiting installation on a plinth. There was a delay in the final positioning, not least because of uncertainty about the route of the planned 'Metro North' and the amount of building work this will involve in Ballymun. The Sculpture was finally unveiled on 17th September 2010! "


For more information and enquiries, please contact: info@john-byrne.ie

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