Kilkenny-based artist Julie Moorhouse is preparing to unveil her very first life-sized sculpture in bronze – with Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan set to carry out the official opening.
In her first outing in three-dimensional art in over 20 years, she is making a bold and powerful statement with her full-sized bronze sculpture of St Sebastian.
Ms Moorhouse majored in sculpture at Exeter College of Art and Design but, from her graduation until two years ago, she concentrated solely on painting. Her figurative paintings gained her recognition at home and abroad, resulting in her receiving several awards, bursaries and commissions.
But creating a work of art on the scale of St Sebastian is a major undertaking both artistically and financially. The sculpture took months to create in clay but, the artist says, “I just couldn’t undertake the cost of the bronze casting process on my own.”
So the sculpture sat, wrapped in damp cloths and plastic for almost two years. “My studio isn’t well insulated,” she says, “and, with two very harsh winters, the clay cracked and split. Much of it had to be repaired or reworked every couple of months.”
Then, in a chance conversation, she found out about FundIt, the Irish group-funding website that provides a web-based platform to help creative people bring their projects to fruition. Before she had time to think, her project was uploaded and online.
After lots of campaigning, she reached her target and the race was on to cast the sculpture in bronze. One of her many funders turned out to be Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, who said he was impressed not only with the artwork but also with the artist’s drive and determination – so impressed, in fact, that he has also agreed to unveil the sculpture.
As the process of turning a clay sculpture into bronze is long and laborious, Ms Moorhouse was aided in the technical process by Seamus Connolly, a bronze foundry owner and sculptor in his own right, based in west Clare.
The sculpture of St Sebastian, along with other sculptures and drawings by the artist, will be unveiled by Minister Deenihan at the Norman Gallery, Monksgrange, Rathnure, Enniscorthy, County Wexford on May 12 at 7pm.