Adam King with his original 'Virtual Hug'
Kilkenny City has revealed plans to unveil a very special sculpture featuring Adam King’s legendary ‘Virtual Hug’ to celebrate Kilkenny Day. Adam’s original design was created in 2020 during the Covid-19 outbreak, to help people connect during difficult times.
The then six year old's drawing of a giant heart, symbolising a huge virtual hug was a moment of hope during the dark days of the pandemic. Soon it will find a new life and a home beside the Nore.
The sculpture piece inspired by Adam’s drawing will be unveiled on October 9, as the City and County celebrate the third ‘Kilkenny Day’. Adam, and his family and friends will be present to witness the unveiling and to enjoy a memorable day that will see his inspiring art brought to life .
The sculpture is the work of CDS Engineering based in Ballyfoyle and owner Martin Stapleton says that they are “proud to be a part of it”. The company specialises in quality metalwork for the construction industry and in recent years has expanded into creative projects such as the Thomas Woodgate war memorial at Kilkenny Courthouse.
To create the artwork, Adam’s original heart drawing was scanned into a Computer Aided Design system and then replicated in corten steel (a type of steel that can weather successfully outside). The scale of the piece will be an impressive eight feet tall so it literally will be a giant hug for everyone who views it. As Martin observes the heart is “exactly up to scale” and they have “not changed a thing” in Adam’s design.
It is currently “all systems go” as the piece is under construction in the Ballyfoyle plant for the October 8 unveiling. Martin says that working on the projects has been “really nice” and while the logistics can be “more difficult” the entire process has been very rewarding.
The sculpture has been created in terms of scale and size for its location at the site of the old bandstand overlooking Kilkenny canal. As part of the installation a pair of benches and an information panel will also feature beside the giant heart so that people can sit and reflect in peace, on the pandemic and its impact.
Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, Cllr. Pat Fitzpatrick, said that the council is delighted that Adam and his parents have agreed to this unique gesture and thanked them for the use of Adam’s artwork in this installation:
"The piece, inspired by Adam’s original artwork and created by CDS Engineering in North Kilkenny is truly unique and will stand as a reminder of the sacrifices made by so many in our community in the past two years since Covid-19 came as an unwelcome visitor amongst us. Situated on the canal walk by the banks of the river Nore, it will offer a tranquil place to reflect and connect for the local community. Adam’s simple but hugely effective gesture on RTÉ’s Late Late Toy Show captured the spirit of positivity and community at a vital time for our nation and inspired us all. He summed up the way that our communities rallied to support the most vulnerable amongst us and that spirit will hopefully be the resounding legacy of these times.”
Chief Executive of Kilkenny County Council, Sean McKeown, said the sculpture reflects Kilkenny’s passion for the arts and its indefatigable spirit:
“Whether in sport or in the world of creativity, Kilkenny always strives for the best we can achieve. That spirit was also to the fore as our frontline professional and voluntary workers did so much to bring us through the past two years. We are delighted that this fitting piece of art will stand as a lasting tribute to those people, including a number of local health workers who paid the ultimate price for their service. Just as Adam lifted our spirits two years ago, we know his image will continue to inspire us in the future.”
Adam’s parents, who are deeply moved by the honour have also commented:
“It is hard to believe that such a tiny gesture created by Adam has touched the lives of so many people all over Ireland and the world. We are so grateful to everyone who took Adam’s virtual hug as their symbol to connect during difficult times. Now, thanks to everyone involved in this amazing project, Adam’s art will continue as an enduring symbol and reminder of a challenging time in our history, the importance of caring for those you love, and the spirit of warmth and connection which is a defining quality of Adam, of the people of Kilkenny and of all Irish people. To everyone who has made this happen – thank you.”
Adam’s original message will endure, and his words will be engraved on a plaque as part of the installation:
"Always remember to hug the ones you love the most, and if you can't give them a real hug - give them a virtual hug!"
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