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Achill-henge a gallery for Our Nation’s Sons


Artist Joe Caslin has turned Achill-henge into a temporary art installation with 30 12-foot drawings of a young Irish male.
?Artist Joe Caslin has turned Achill-henge into a temporary art installation with 30 12-foot drawings of a young Irish male.?Pic: Gavin Leane

Achill-henge a gallery for Our Nation’s Sons

Ciara Galvin

ACHILL-HENGE has been the source of much controversy since its construction by Achill native Joe McNamara in 2011. Standing 15-foot high and 100 metres in circumference on a hill above Pollagh on Achill island, many people have an opinion about the structure.
For Roscommon illustrator and street artist Joe Caslin, it is simply ‘the perfect canvas’. Caslin, along with a team of 12 people, including photographers, pasters and helpers, has turned the site into a temporary art installation with 30 12-foot drawings of a young Irish male, as part of his ongoing ‘Our Nation’s Sons’ project.
On Friday last, Joe and his team set about making the dream a reality, and putting a ‘positive slant’ on a site that has been loaded with controversy since its construction.
“From the minute I saw it I always wanted to do something on it,” explained Caslin.
Officially, the Our Nation’s Sons project is said to “use portrait drawings as a tool to provoke and question current representations of young men in today’s society.” In the illustrator’s own words, the project aims to “put the focus back on the lads” and to get people talking again.
“It’s to portray them [young males] in a different light. People are coming over [at Achill- henge] and asking ‘what does it mean?’”
Caslin’s Our Nation’s Sons illustrations have been placed on many locations around Edinburgh, where they have received ‘brilliant reactions’ from the public throughout the city’s recent Fringe Festival.
This is not just an art project, however. It also has a social element. The youths portrayed in Joe’s pieces are involved in the process from start to finish if they want to be, with many helping through the process of pasting the illustrations onto the buildings and speaking to the public.
“I want to go into youth centres and work with them [young males]. It’s a lead-on project and was always an Irish project,” he explained.
The 12-foot drawings that have been pasted to Achill-henge are of an Irish male in different poses and carrying different expressions. Joe asks visitors to “read what you want in them.”
The installations could last days, weeks or months, depending on weather conditions, but the art project is definitely a temporary feature.
Joe and his team hope to bring the subject to a wider audience and have already researched other locations around the country for the project. Our Nation’s Sons (both Edinburgh and Achill-henge) will be exhibited at the major arts and cultural centre in the heart of London, Somerset House, for the month of October.
A video documenting the installation of the drawings at Achill-henge will be available to view this Friday.

For more information on the project, and to view Caslin’s work and videos, visit his website, www.joecaslin.com.