EASTER WEEKEND APRIL 2023
I first photographed this in 2001 and I have always liked it.
Today I, much to my surprise, ended up in Dun Laoghaire as all trains on the Bray/Greystones line terminated in Dun Laoghaire. I was planning to visit Bray or Greystones so I decided to walk along to cost as far as Dalkey but when I discovered the frequency of the bus service I decided to return home when I got as far as Newtownsmith where the Mothership is located.
I have seen this described online as the Sea Urchin Sculpture locate on the Glasthule Promenade however I noticed a few years ago, for the first time, a plaque which read as follows: “Mothership By Rachel Joynt 1999”.
Mothership was commissioned in 1998 through an open competition as part of an Art Programme for the Dun Laoghaire Drainage Scheme. The sculpture is located in Newtownsmith which is an area between Dun Laoghaire and Glasthule. Over time it has become an iconic and popular work that has captured public imagination. Its scale and form leads itself to inter-action, as its is possible to climb into the body of the shell.
The sculpture, made of cast bronze and stainless steel, depicts a sea urchin positioned on its side and suspended in motion leaving a trail of metal silver droplets.
It is as if the sea urchin has been thrown up onto the shore by a wave. Positioned at a slight angle, we can follow the moving sea urchin’s tracks – small stainless steel discs – as it spins to a halt, and surprisingly remains upright.
The sea urchin is a confident statement of clear sea water, made possible by Dun Laoghaire Drainage Scheme. On a more subtle level the diameter chosen for the piece is the same diameter that is used in the tunnelling and pipe construction involved in the Drainage Scheme.
The work is positioned to allow the viewer to look through it and out to open sea.
Rachel Joynt (born 1966 in County Kerry) is an Irish sculptor who has created some prominent Irish public art. She graduated from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin in 1989 with a degree in sculpture.
Her father, Dick Joynt, was also a sculptor. Rachel Joynt is preoccupied by ideas of place, history and nature, and her work often examines the past as a substrate of the present. Her commissions include People’s Island (1988) in which brass footprints and bird feet criss-cross a well-traversed pedestrian island near Dublin’s O’Connell Bridge. She collaborated with Remco de Fouw to make Perpetual Motion (1995), a large sphere with road markings which stands on the Naas dual carriageway. This has been described by Public Art Ireland as ‘probably Ireland’s best known sculpture’ and was featured, as a visual shorthand for leaving Dublin, in The Apology, a Guinness advert. Joynt also made the 900 under-lit glass cobblestones which were installed in early 2005 along the edge of Dublin’s River Liffey; many of these cobblestones contain bronze or silver fish.