PROCLAMATION BY ROWAN GILLESPIE
I have seen this described as startlingly morbid memorial sculpture located across the street from one of Ireland’s most infamous prisons.
“Proclamation” by Rowan Gillespie is a permanent outdoor sculpture honouring the leaders of the Easter Rising, and the authors of the Irish proclamation of Independence. It stands solemnly across the street from the notorious Kilmainham Gaol where the proclamation scribes were executed in 1916.
It features abstract and faceless bronze statues standing in a circle around a pillar, the words of their proclamation engraved into the metal. These eerily blindfolded statues each have an execution order or a verdict carved into their base, and their torsos are riddled with holes to represent where they were hit by the firing squad. Each torso has a different bullet pattern, which is one of the only varying characteristics of the figures.
These statues have no names, faces or limbs. They are meant to represent the rebel leaders who were the seven signatories on the Proclamation. There are fourteen figures in total and the other seven were donated to the piece by the artist himself in honour of the total number of executions involving the rising and in memory of his grandfather James Creed Meredith.
Rowan Gillespie is an Irish bronze casting sculptor of international renown. He was born in Dublin in 1953 and spent his formative years in Cyprus. He studied art at York School of Art, Kingston College of Art, and Kunst og Handverke Skole in Oslo. After living and exhibiting in Norway for several years, he returned to Ireland in 1977.
Gillespie is known for his figurative sculptures, which often depict historical or literary figures. His work is characterised by its expressiveness and emotional power. Some of his most famous sculptures include the Famine Memorial (1997), Titanica (2004), and Ripples of Ulysses (2008).
Gillespie is a highly skilled craftsman and works alone in his purpose-built bronze casting foundry. He is unique among bronze casting sculptors in that he does all of the moulding, casting, and finishing himself. This gives his work a distinctively personal touch.
Gillespie’s sculptures can be found in public and private collections all over the world. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Henry Moore Award for Sculpture (1988) and the Edward James Foundation Award (1993).