Drogheda Independent

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'Timekeeper' is unveiled


A unique piece of artwork was unveiled at St Joseph's Secondary School on the shortest day of the year.

Appropriately enough, it is called 'The Tmekeeper' and was designed by Sunny Wieler and his team at Stone Art.

The complex feature is probably one of the most striking pieces of artwork in the region.

The work was commissioned under the Per Cent for Art scheme and the brief: to create a piece to commemorate the transition of the school from its humble beginnings into the new extensive extension, based on the subject of the movement of time.

'In the Drogheda area alone, more than 5000 years of history can be read through the many stone structures that cover the landscape here, spanning from the Neolithic site of Newgrange to the Norman beginnings of the town itself. This Norman heritage is evident in the earliest monument in the town which is the motte-and-bailey castle, now known as Millmount Fort,' Sunny explains.

'The Timekeeper' sculpture pays tribute to this movement of time, recorded through stone.

From a distance the large vertical blocks of sandstone take on the appearance of a Neolithic structure. As you approach, the sundial element of the sculpture becomes apparent.

'The large angled stone in the centre (gnomon) is angled parallel to the earth's axis, paying tribute to the first gnomon style sundials invented in the late 1300's. The bars of engineered limestone in the floor along with the relief carvings of cogs and wheels in the standing stones represent modern time.

'The precision of the limestone markers highlights the slight fluctuation in the accuracy of the shadows cast by the Neolithic gnomon as the seasons change. This in turn highlights the contrast between the rudimentary time mapping of the neoliths with the sophisticated precision of modern engineered time.'

The stone seating area in the courtyard between the old and new buildings is an extension of the sculpture, with the time capsule placed under the stone mosaic in the floor, a symbol of the school's confidence in its future.

The stone for the project is sandstone and comes from Drimkeelan quarry in County Donegal. Drimkeelan is one of the oldest working quarries in the country.

The quarry also supplied stone for famous buildings such as The National Museum of Ireland, Leinster house and Stormont in Northern Ireland .

'The piece of white quartzite built into the base of the gnomon links back to the white quartzite facade of the nearby prehistoric site of Newgrange,' Sunny explains.

The standing stones were carved by expert stonemasons.

'As is often the case when building something unique, this project ended up taking longer than expected, so the pressure was on to get it completed on time. It was a little surreal at times to be building a giant clock when you're under pressure to finish a job,' Sunny added.

He says he hopes the process of its construction will hopefully give some of the students in the school an appreciation for the craft and for the work involved in applying those skills.