About Coillte

Sculpture in Woodlands, Devil's Glen, Co. Wicklow


Sculpture in Woodland is situated in the beautiful surroundings of the Devil's Glen Wood, Ashford, Co. Wicklow and features a unique collection of contemporary sculpture by Irish and international artists.

The project was formed in 1994 with the aim of creating a greater awareness of wood as an artistic and functional medium. Creative artists are facilitated in responding in new ways to the natural environment; in return the artists give the community a rich and diverse range of work, situated in an environment that is very different to a traditional gallery space. Artists are commissioned on an annual basis and to date thirteen sculptures, by both Irish and international artists, have been permanently sited in the Devil's Glen.
This collaboration was described by poet and Nobel prize-winner, Seamus Heaney, as:
"an act of faith in the worth of art itself, an act of commitment to the positive values of form and order and solitary contemplation... I commend again the creative vision... which has made Sculpture in Woodland such a vital part of the world we inhabit as we move towards the millennium."

(speaking at the unveiling of Michael Warren's sculpture in the Devil's Glen, November 1998)

The Devil's Glen was chosen as the location for Sculpture in Woodland because of its rich historic, artistic and natural heritage. The Glen was cut out gradually by meltwater during the glacial period and the River Vartry enters at the waterfall. The playwright John Millington Synge spent his summers in nearby Glanmore Castle and in 1828 the painter James Arthur O'Connor captured the brooding qualities of the Glen. In more recent times, poet and Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney was influenced by the Glen when writing the Glanmore Sonnets.

The Devil's Glen Wood is owned by Coillte and is fully accessible to the public with car parking, picnic facilities and a variety of forest walks. Access is free and the Glen is open everyday from 9am – 9pm. The Glen consists of both native woodlands and introduced species. In recent years broadleaf planting in the Glen has increased and today, almost 13% of the Glen is planted with broadleaves.

Coillte has been closely involved with Sculpture in Woodland since its inception. In 1995, the company granted Sculpture in Woodland permission to use the 600 acres of the Devil's Glen for the sculptures. This support has continued over the last number of years and Tom Lyng, Wicklow/ Dublin area manager sits on the Sculpture in Woodland executive committee, which deals with areas relating to artistic policy, management and funding. Other committee members include: Donal Magner, Martin Sheridan, Kevin Collins (the Forest Service), Liz McManus, T.D., Cliodhna Shaffrey ( visual art consultant), Duncan Stewart, Jenny Sherwin (Wicklow County Council) and Eileen MacDonagh (sculptor).

How to get to the Devil's Glen

Take the N11 heading south from Dublin or north from Wexford and exit at Ashford . At the roundabout in Ashford village, follow the signs for Sculpture in Woodland. In all, the entrance to the glen is about 4km from Ashford.

Sculpture in Woodland is sponsored by:

Coillte, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture & Food Arts Council, and Wicklow County Council

For further information :

Sculpture in Woodland
Co. Wicklow

Tel: ++353 1 201 1111
Fax: ++353 1 201 1199

The Collection
Sculpture in Woodland commissions artists on an annual basis and, to date, there are thirteen sculptures sited permanently in the Devil's Glen.

Naomi Seki (Japan) Untitled, Douglas fir, 1996.

Working exclusively in wood, Naomi Seki has held solo exhibitions in Tokyo and Yokohama and has participated in numerous group shows, including the 3rd International Wood and Sculpture Symposium, Denmark. In 1994 she received first prize at the Modern Wood Carving Festival, Japan.

"This work is concerned with visualising the combination and balance of things - wood and wood - with different weights in different things."

Maurice MacDonagh (Ireland) Round, Sitka spruce, 1996.
Maurice MacDonagh has had solo exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, RHA Gallery, Project Arts Centre and Eigse, Carlow. He was the Irish representative at Expo 92, Seville and received the Oireachtas Sculpture Award in 1993.

"Round takes the form of a large charred minimal cylinder constructed from concentric circles of Sitka spruce. This follows the process by which the tree forms wood and underlines the theme of the work; exploring the nature and substance of trees and how we experience them."

Jorge du Bon (France) Untitled, Douglas fir, 1996.
Jorge du Bon has produced monumental pieces in Europe, USA and Central America. He was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim grants on three occasions and received first prize at the 1st Biennale, Antwerp.

"Not added material and not removed either. The structure is realised by means of cuts in an intellectual process. The dead tree comes back to new life when nature cannot keep it anymore."

Kat O'Brien (Canada) The Seven Shrines, various timbers, 1996.
Kat O'Brien has exhibited in Ireland, USA, China and Canada, including the United Nations World Conference on Women, Beijing and Eau de Passion series in Chicago and New York.

"The seven shrines commemorate the seven generations of women born since the beginning of the Irish Famine. The shrines invoke the intimacy of the forest to redirect the power of those legends towards reconsideration of the lives of seven generations of people who have no fame on the battlefield."

Derek Whitticase (England) Pound, Douglas fir, 1997.
Liverpool born, Derek Whitticase has been working in Co. Carlow for a number of years. He has exhibited in solo and group shows in Ireland and Europe and lectured in sculpture in Dun Laoghaire College of Art.

"Pound is about space being valuable and about valuing our environment. The piece creates an enclosure that can be entered and experienced within as well as without. The natural organic forms of the 16 columns reflect the environment of the forest, while also evoking images of bars or caging.""

Jacques Bosser (France) Chago, European larch, 1997.
Jacques Bosser's work is featured in major French, US and European galleries and he has created public pieces for Sculpture Musée des Telecommunication and Palais de Justice de Montereau.
"In the African forest, drums are beating, the air fills with smoke, flames rise in the sky. Chago, God of Fire appears, leaving in his wake large blackened and burned out tree trunks. To appease the Gods, the locals insert pieces of metal in their wooden objects of worship and make a wish."

Michael Warren (Ireland) Antaeus, Poplar and Larch, 1998.
Michael Warren has exhibited widely since 1980, both in Ireland and abroad. He has created large-scale outdoor sculptures in many countries, including Japan, South Korea, Andorra, France, USA, Saudi Arabia, Portugal and Ecuador. In 1998 he exhibited at the Fenderesky and Ormeau Baths galleries, Belfast and at Eigse, Carlow.

"Antaeus takes its name from the ancient Greek giant who drew his strength from the earth and was invincible as long as some part of his body remained in contact with the earth. The piece is sited immediately adjacent to the forest entrance and comprises three vertical elements which straddle the road and create an inverted arch-like form."

Michael Bulfin (Ireland) Time Alone is Changeless, Douglas fir & stone, 1999.

Michael Bulfin has been creating and exhibiting sculpture since the early 1960's. He has had a number of solo exhibitions and has shown work widely in Ireland, UK, Europe and the U.S. He is very interested in public art and, in particular, site specific and land art; with his scientific background and knowledge, he brings a special approach to these areas of sculpture.
"The rocks weather to soil. Soils provide anchorage and nutrients to plants. Trees are the largest and longest-lived plants in the valley. They celebrate with their life the nutrients, which come from the soil. All things change with time. Time alone is changeless."

Alberto Carneiro (Portugal) Woodland Mandala, Douglas fir & Rowan, 1999.

Alberto Carneiro was born in Coronado, Portugal and now lives and works near Oporto. He studied sculpture at the School of Fine Art in Oporto and at St. Martin's in London and has taught at the Faculty of Architecture in the University of Oporto. He has exhibited regularly since 1963, both in Portugal and internationally and has travelled extensively in Europe, South America and Asia. Carneiro has studied philosophy, Tao and Zen and this has made a profound impression on his work, as can be seen in Woodland Mandala.
"This sculpture is a metaphor for the forest. It is a mandala that contains in itself the inner centre of the self and the universe. The stones, the dead and the living trees belong to the forest. The energy of the upside down trees nourish the living tree that grows inside the earth into the sky and will blossom every spring."

Max Eastley (England) Pine Ghosts, Norway spruce, 1999.

Max Eastley is very interested in the relationship of chance to music and art and in environmental forces such as wind and water. He has exhibited widely in the UK, Europe and Japan since the 1970's and has exhibited and participated in performance installations in Ireland on several occasions in the 1990's.
"The site for me became a gateway. I wanted to create a work that led into and out of the valley, so there are two main viewing points: from the crest of the descent, where the sculptures are seen as a structure of fine lines, and when ascending from the valley, when the sculptures appear above the viewer as pieces of suspended architecture. My idea after my first visit was to try to create a place where imagination and nature could meet together and dream of ghostly presences."

Eileen MacDonagh (Ireland) Into the Dark, Laurel, 2000.
Eileen MacDonagh was born in Sligo and has worked as a sculptor since the early 1980's. Her work has featured in many exhibitions, both in Ireland and abroad, including shows in Portugal, Scotland, India and Japan. Eileen has both organised and participated in many symposia, in Ireland and abroad; her work is included in numerous collections, such as the OPW, Kilkenny and Cork County Councils, Marlay Park, Dublin and Tawara Newtown, Osaka, Japan.

"The idea for this sculpture came from an image I saw many years ago in a wood in Japan. There were hundreds of short logs stacked against each other in rows, winding in and out between the trees making wonderful patterns. The image remained with me and I adapted it to create this 10 metre long intervention over the pathway along the river. Laurel was the ideal choice of wood for this work, not only for its organic growth patterns, but also because it had to be cleared out of areas where it has taken over in the forest."

Kristaps Gulbis (Latvia) Investigating Airspace, Western Red Cedar, 2000.

Kristaps Gulbis was born in Riga, Latvia where he continues to live and work. His work is very concerned with the environment in which it is situated and he spends time getting a sense of an area before commencing there. Kristaps has exhibited in Latvia since 1991 and has travelled to participate in numerous exhibitions and symposia in Austria, the U.S., Germany, England, Estonia and Poland. Sculpture in Woodland was the first time that he visited and worked in Ireland.
"I consider my works to be 'joint ventures' between myself and the local environment. This principle of environmental participation, as I define it, forms the essence of my projects. All of us try to leave our own footprints. We are trying to make ourselves visible. My aim was partly achieved if people passing the artwork considered it to be "natural" both in urban or preserved landscapes, perhaps, even not detecting it. I like the idea of the artwork being part of the environment, not somebody's visual 'footprint'."
Education Programme
In addition to commissioning artists, Sculpture in Woodland also runs a complementary education programme, which aims to involve the local community.
In 1999, Sculpture in Woodland, in association with the Wicklow County Council, was awarded an Environmental Partnership Award by the Department of the Environment and Local Government. This award was used to initiate a schools project, in association with three local primary schools. Sculpture in Woodland engaged artist Gerda Teljeur and drama facilitator Irma Grothuis. They designed a collaborative programme, which introduced the children to the forest and the importance of trees through the medium of art and drama. The participants created their own artworks using natural materials collected in the forest and the programme culminated with a show of the work in the Wicklow County Buildings. The three participating schools were: Ashford National School, St. Philomena's Primary School, Bray, Glebe National School, Wicklow.
This education programmed was continued in 2000, in association with Wicklow County Council and Tinahely Courthouse Centre. Gerda and Irma worked with three primary schools in the Tinahely area and an exhibition of the work created by the children was held in the Tinahely Courthouse Centre in December.
Another artwork was created in 2000, under the Sculpture in Woodland Education programme, which is targeted at primary schools in the county. The artists, Greenmantle, created People Whirl, in laurel:
"This sculpture is inspired by the materials from which it is made. The laurel snakes through the wood intertwining with itself and the trees in a tangle of growth. We wanted to harness this wildness and create order, illustrating the compulsion of man to control nature. The artwork influences and controls the movement of people who interact with it. Symbolising a gateway between realities, the spiral leads you to wander into its centre, a peaceful space, encouraging a moments pause."
Greenmantle also facilitated workshops with pupils from St. Saviour's N.S., Rathdrum; St. Kevin's N.S., Glendalough & the Gael Scoil, Wicklow. The pupils created their own artworks using natural materials and these were exhibited in the Devil's Glen in October 2000.

The education programme for 2001 involved 3 more Co Wicklow primary schools, viz. Scoil Muire Shillelagh, Nun's Cross NS Ashford, St Laurence's NS Greystones, and at the end of the 10 week programme they held an exhibition of their own work in County Buildings, Wicklow.

Community and Outreach

During 2002 a review of programmes took place and the education programme developed into a more community based focus. Sculpture in Woodland also launched their own website www.sculptureinwoodland.ie. During 2003 and 2004, this included guided walks in the wood, a partnership with Wicklow Arts Network, an initiative to hold photographic and creative writing competitions in about the Devil's Glen, and the launch of a mobile exhibition and visitors' booklet telling the various stories and layers that go to make up the rich experience of the Devil's Glen . This mobile exhibition tours around the county to libraries, community centres, etc and is available to groups on request.

During 2003 – 2005, an extensive programme of recreational improvements has been undertaken including removal of extensive laurel overgrowth, drainage works, path improvements, waymarking and information boards and map. This was funded under Forest Service Neighbourwood Scheme in conjunction with Wicklow County Council.

During 2005 – 2006 a major new initiative pause2xplore involves 12 Irish and international artists coming together to explore through discourse and experimentation, possibilities for new forms of public art expression, distribution and mediation.