St. Patrick’s Cathedral
I was very happy to have the opportunity to photograph the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Tree of Remembrance -unveiled 28th July 2014 – a collaborative work designed between Andrew Smith, Education officer at St.Pat’s and newly re-christened Bushy Park Iron Works craft ironworks formerly Bushy Park Iron Works.
I photographed the project as it took shape out in the Dublin based forge over several months. The piece was fashioned from sheet metal plates with an inner tubular support structure to give strength. Photography was done at various stages – cutting and shaping the various sections of the central stem as it tapers and bends to 18ft high. In one of the photographs you can see the interior structural tubing that supports the main stem. The challenge in terms of industrial photography was to convey the artisan nature of its construction in a busy, noisy environment without making it look too untidy- or too clinical. Also the sheer height and relative narrowness was tricky. The background had to be extended in Photoshop afterwards. A platform was improvised with some hoist equipment to get some lighting at the top of the piece and another platform had to built for the already tall tripod. In all 6 lights were used for the final shot. A long lens would normally be best practice for this kind of professional photography but we had to stick to a regular 50mm ‘normal’ lens in order to fit the sculpture in the frame in the physical space of the foundry. Although lighting and tripods were used in almost every shot, there was an element of reacting quickly to capture some of the welding and forging work as this was very much a tight deadline project. The main shots of the finished piece were to be clean and easier to read visually on the website.
The tree commemorates the dead from the Dublin area and beyond who died in the First World War. The public are invited to leave messages of peace and remembrance for their loved ones on little pieces of paper that resemble the leaves of a real tree, which makes for a simple but powerful interactive experience. There is a very powerful message of renewal and regeneration as the ‘leaves’ eventually overwhelm the bare, burnt branches that brilliantly evoke the destruction of ‘No Man’s Land’. It conveys the horror and waste of the ‘war to end all wars’ without any glorification or jingoism. Irish Times article Here
St. Patrick’s Cathedral Tree of Remembrance
Time to completion: 3 months
Dimensions: 5.5m high x 2m wide
Material: Forged from steel with rusted finish to base, burnished finish to tree, sealed with wax