Chim­ney piece

The Irish Times Magazine - - THE TIMES WE LIVED IN - Pub­lished: June 14th, 1983 Pho­to­graph: Peter Thurs­field

Taken just be­fore Blooms­day in 1983, to­day’s pho­to­graph is cap­tioned “Chim­ney Piece”, and cel­e­brated the in­stal­la­tion of “the first work in what is to be a com­plex of pieces at Beach Road, Sandy­mount, Dublin, ded­i­cated to James Joyce”.

That am­bi­tious Joycean pere­gri­na­tion never ma­te­ri­alised, but Cliodna Cussen’s stone sculp­ture, carved in the shape of a gi­ant quo­ta­tion mark, has be­come a Sandy­mount land­mark in its own right.

In­scribed with the words “An Gal­lán Gréine do James Joyce” ( A So­lar Pil­lar for James Joyce), the gi­ant chunk of stone – in fact, it’s said to be made from four dif­fer­ent chunks of stone – acts as an in­di­ca­tor for the win­ter sol­stice sun­rise. Align your­self with the marker stone to the east, and you can ( weather per­mit­ting, of course) do your own New­grange in Dublin 4 – thus align­ing your­self with the uni­verse, not to men­tion Joyce’s c Stephen Dedalus, who fa­mously won­dered whether he was “walk­ing into eter­nity” along Sandy­mount Strand.

There was a time, of course, when Ulysses was re­garded not as the work of a lit­er­ary ge­nius – not even, as it is nowa­days, as an ex­cuse for the “cul­tural” mar­ket­ing ex­er­cise that Blooms­day has be­come – but as pornog­ra­phy. The red- and- white- striped Pi­geon House chim­neys, which soar to the top of our pic­ture and be­yond, their par­al­lel rigid­ity dwarf­ing the art­work and form­ing a sharp con­trast with its gen­tle curves, have also ex­pe­ri­enced chang­ing cul­tural for­tunes. Once de­rided as an eye­sore and many times sched­uled for de­mo­li­tion, they’ve now be­come an icon of the city, and at­tained listed- build­ing sta­tus in 2014.

Cussen’s fel­low sculp­tor Pa­trick O’Reilly has sug­gested turn­ing the candy- striped tow­ers into a Dublin ver­sion of the Eif­fel Tower by il­lu­mi­nat­ing their up­per ech­e­lons. One can only imag­ine how crusty old Joyce would re­act to that sug­ges­tion.

But what we love most about this im­age is the way the two lads and their dog are lean­ing in to the sculp­ture, as com­fort­able, re­laxed and nat­u­ral as if they were in their own front room. Or maybe the sculp­ture is lean­ing in to them?

Ar­minta Wal­lace

Ar­chive pho­to­graphs and other Ir­ish Times im­ages can be pur­chased from irish­times. com/ pho­to­s­ales

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