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A Church Without A Steeple


Slide projection with voiceover, 16 minutes duration

Wall drawings, photographs, various sculptural elements

In A Church Without A Steeple, research material gathered informs a series of anecdotal observations that focus on public reactions to, and rhetoric surrounding the introduction of modern ideas and forms in Ireland. These range from newspaper cartoons of the 1950s, satirically incorporating abstract sculpture, to a bard in County Kerry composing verse referring to Knockanure church, built without a steeple to the apparent bewilderment of the local population.

Presented as a slide projection with a scripted voiceover performed by Gina Moxley, sites depicted include an art storage area in Sligo, an architectural department at the University of Limerick, a now destroyed mural by Louis le Brocquy and Scott Tallon Walker’s modernist church in Knockanure. A series of sculptural and graphic elements in adjoining gallery spaces each appear at various stages of the narrated sequence.

In this assembly, it becomes apparent that any one coherent version or viewpoint on the history of modernism in Ireland is far from possible. Rather, the narrated sequence is reflective of the uneven ground that modern progress is played out upon, where local circumstance and specific social and economic constructs shape any provisional understanding. The notion of the modern as a programmatic history with a desire to recode and to rationalise seems hard to locate in this context. Instead it seeps into common consciousness, placed between all that came before and after it.