chair in situ, 2015


You Are Here

A site integrated sculptural installation in collaboration with architect Jan Frohburg

You are here... is a public art project for Tuam that takes the town’s intriguing past and present as its starting point. The townscape of Tuam is captured in a large intaglio map full of allusions and references. The vibrant map depicts key sites and records personal observations. It provides clues to stories and folklore. It thus creates a sense of history and evokes Tuam both as an ancient centre of Connacht as well as a remarkable place in contemporary Ireland. The artist’s map also hints at the locations of small sculptural interventions around town.

Throughout Tuam a dozen or so small sculptural objects are installed in public locations where they can be seen but not necessarily reached. These cast metal sculptures are accurately modelled on an ancient Irish chair. This historic chair is rooted in the rural origins of the town and ties into local craft tradition. Tuam is the only place where this particular type of chair is still being made today. This chair provides a recognisable emblem for Tuam even if manipulated in size and scale. Perched on windowsills, high on ledges, out on piers in the river, or tucked into corners these small chair objects draw attention to places that are otherwise easily overlooked.

Although small in size, their distinctive shape and colour along with their carefully chosen sites help to form a mental image that covers all of Tuam. And by combining small-scale sculptural installations with narrational map-making this art project aims to represent Tuam as a place back to itself. Even if modest in appearance, the chair objects can inspire a legacy process of community engagement through educational projects, drawing workshops and even furniture making.

The large, printed map will remain permanently in the Tuam Public Library. Also on display in the library is a temporary exhibition of experimental and artistic interpretations of the Tuam Chair, assembled during the course of the project. These include bronze and iron casts, a maquette woven from rushes and a ceramic chair alongside various timber models.

 A photographic exhibition is to follow in 2016. The photographs will document the array of sculptural chairs throughout Tuam and, hopefully, recreate the sense of discovery one has when finding them for the first time. The photographs will be also published in a book, accompanied by texts about the ancient Irish chair, Tuam as a place and map-making as a way of exploration.

 PDF of Poster for "You Are Here" Exhibition