Al fresco art at the Quay

Going Out

ELIXIR OF LIFE Emma Bourke with her sculpture ‘Elixir’ at Westport Quay, where an outdoor art exhibition has been installed.


Locals and tourists alike have been enchanted by the temporary outdoor exhibition of contemporary sculpture on show at Westport Quay. From a hare in scuba gear to a giant oyster shell with pearl, viewers’ attention is pulled from one thought provoking piece to another as they stroll around the pretty shorefront setting.
The exhibiting artists are Donnacha Cahill, Eileen MacDonagh, Lelia Ní Chathmhaoil and Aoife Casby, Maeve Curley, John Gibbons, Emma Bourke, Conleth Gent, Kathlyn O’Brien, Paul Mosse, Vivian Hansbury, Andrew Folan.
Westport artist Emma Bourke’s sculpture, entitled ‘Elixir’ is, a new work created for the show. The title refers to ‘a substance held capable of prolonging life indefinitely or a medicinal concoction to cure disease’ – a subject that we have all had to contemplate of late.
Bourke is intrigued by the use of plants as medicine. “Through my research into traditional uses of plants I found a prime example of an elixir at work. During the Bubonic Plague doctors wore long beaked masks filled with Theriac, a compound of 55 herbs, including rosemary, to enrich the doctors’ immune system, protecting them from disease.
“While traditional medicinal plants may have no effect on our current pandemic they may help to hold it off by supporting the body.
“‘Elixir’ is based on the wild flower, rosemary, a notorious medicinal plant held in high regard for its anti-inflammatory compounds and as a rich source of antioxidants. This bright pretty plant boosts the immune system and improve blood circulation. Traditionally used in teas and cooking to fight off disease. This image of an Elixir may brighten the dark isolation which current restrictions place upon us.”
The sculpture itself is tall wooden case with a glass section, containing glass sprigs of rosemary.  
“I took a scientific approach when creating the petals and branches in glass, to scrutinize the physicality, scale and fragility of the rosemary plant. Recreating the physical form of the plant in another material, such as glass, is another way to share information about a plant.
“‘Elixir’ is made from three materials: glass, metal, wood. These materials are timeless and sustainable. It’s important to me that I create works that exist both then and now; that speak both of our history and presence in 2021.”

Sculpture at Westport Quay 2021 will remain on show for the rest of the summer. This exhibition is organised by Custom House Studios an artist led studios and gallery at Westport Quay funded by Mayo County Council, Pobal and The Arts Council of Ireland.