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Tubber sculptor coaxing life from stone

A North Clare sculptor is taking the art world by storm as part of the 10th annual Ballymaloe House Outdoor Sculptor Exhibition. Tubber sculptor, Tommy Brennan, has two pieces included in this year’s exhibition which is curated by Richie Scott, owner of the RSSculpture gallery.
His two pieces entitled ‘Earth’s Sorrow’ and ‘Woman’ are two contrasting figurative pieces made in Burren limestone by the Clare sculptor.
‘Earth’s Sorrow’ aims to highlight mankind’s changed relationship with the earth and depicts a Mother Earth Gaia-like figure in a defensive pose lamenting pollution, loss of habitats and biodiversity in the pursuit of short-term profit.
“The harmful impact of human activities on the planet is something that I am both keenly interested in and concerned about, and I wanted to capture this in a piece of art,” said Mr Brennan about this piece.
The second piece, which is entitled ‘Woman’, depicts a reclining female figure in a relaxed casual pose.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be part of the 2024 Ballymaloe House Outdoor Sculptor Exhibition. I would like to say a big thank you to Richie Scott for all his dedication and enthusiasm and also to Ballymaloe House who supports and hosts the exhibition annually,” he said.
The exhibition officially opened last month and runs over the summer until September 1. It features 50 pieces by 23 Irish sculptors and there is a guided tour of the art works by Richie Scott every Thursday afternoon.
Tommy Brennan is currently also exhibiting in the Cairde Visual in the Hamilton Gallery Sligo, with his work ‘Come Back to Me’ as part of the Cairde Sligo Arts Festival which runs from this coming Saturday, July 6, to Saturday, July 27. His work can also be seen at the Gort Art’s members exhibition which will commence on Culture Night, September 20, in Gort.
Earlier this year some of Tommy’s sculptors of selkies featured in the Gort Arts Brigid’s windows exhibition to celebrate St Brigid’s Day. A selkie in Celtic mythology is a being capable of shapeshifting from seal to human by shedding their seal skin. In his work ‘Song of the Selkie’ Brennan captured the selkie in its human form.
It is a fitting piece of art by the sculptor who says he loves the challenge of coaxing a sensuous form from a hard, unyielding material.
“In a way it is like giving a new life, new form, new shape to something that is largely viewed as tough, rigid or inflexible,” he said.
He creates mostly small scale figurative pieces in stone, usually limestone and marble. He admits to a lifelong fascination with stone, its formation and its antiquity and for many years he worked as a stonemason, practising the traditional craft of stone building.
He uses off-cuts or fragments of broken or discarded stone, which he acquires from monumental sculptors, salvage yards or building sites. These pieces of stone, instead of being superfluous or destined for landfill, receive a new lease of life.
“The figure fits the available stone, the stone often suggests the figure,” he says.
For more follow Tommy Brennan on Instagram @createdfromstone.

About Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a journalist, writer and podcaster based in the west of Ireland.

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