A pair of stunning steel sculptures on display in Mountmellick Library, are the result of a joint project by a Laois artist with Clonaslee College students.
Two faces created from steel, depict a person's mental pain, first masked and then unmasked, in a powerful message about the hidden pain of mental illness.
The theme of the project was mental health and general wellbeing and the title is “Art for Our Sake”.
It came about as part of the ‘Artists in School Scheme’ administered by the Laois Arts Office.
Clonaslee College Transition Year students collaborated to create the sculpture under the guidance and direction of their Art teacher Amanda Harkin and the well known Laois artist Tom Joyce.
Ms Harkin explained the pieces.
“The sculpture is comprised of two faces – the first face, appears to be under an internal pressure that is forcing through a protective shield of steel. When examined, the face and steel shield seem to be ‘cracking up’ under stress,” she said.
“The second face cries out in frustration, or for help, as it bursts through the shield, which can no longer contain its pain and anguish and hide it from public view,” the teacher said.
The Clonaslee students hope that the sculpture will promote an awareness and realisation, that often private anguish or anger might be hidden behind a mask that is as tough as steel.
Artist Tom Joyce is based in Glenbarrow in the Slieve Bloom mountains.
“To expose the students to a wide range of artistic practices, the sculpture was created using a variety of materials and construction techniques,” he said.
“The construction had five phases. First was the construction of two armatures and the modelling of the faces in air-drying clay.
“Then was the development of the ‘faces’ in cardboard. Then using these cardboard templates, the cutting and welding of the steel components to ‘frame’ the faces,”he said.
“Through being actively involved in every stage of the process, the students gained new artistic and practical skills,” Tom Joyce said.
The art teacher said it was a great project.
“The students worked very hard and enjoyed their time working with artist Tom Joyce,” she said.
“We thought we would focus on the theme of mental health and we are very proud of what has been achieved,” Ms Harkin said.
The sculptures will remain on display in the library until the end of October.