The Whaleback piece’s shape and name come from the image of a large submerged form which is just about breaking the surface of the water as it moves forward.
It draws on the theme of proximity of the River Lagan to the Lyric Theatre and hints at there being much more mass and momentum below the surface than is apparent from the movement on visible plane. As such, it reflects in many ways on the arts and
creativity in Northern Ireland where there are many working creatively, yet only a few break the surface. The use of rocks is symbolic to represent the effort that is required to make even a ripple. It is symbolic that the ‘front’ of the piece is pointing in the river’s upstream direction
The piece is constructed from hand-picked North Down ocean cobbles graded by size, colour and shape, fixed to glass fibre rod which are in turn affixed into a (beautiful and damned expensive 🙂 bespoke base which is buried in 6″ of concrete. All of the stones point to the ‘keystone’ which is different from the rest in every way and is adorned with small pieces of dichroic glass. This stone is the single part of the piece that is ‘breaking the surface’
The sonic elements are the stone/rod combinations which, because of the way they are integrally affixed to the rod and firmly fixed to the base embedded in concrete, are resonant way beyond the sound of banging stones together.
This is a hands-on piece intended to be sounded by public interaction or very strong wind. The piece can be triggered by running one’s hands over it or by tapping the individual stones, each will have its own sonic characteristics and tone.
Any triggered rod that has been moved will continue to ‘shimmer’ for a period which adds to the sense of movement and life of the piece.
This vibration will also generate a subsonic tone but no-one will be able to hear it
From The Young At Art Annual Report
The creation of The Sonic Sculpture Garden began in festival 2002 and was completed this year. Artist Amanda Montgomery and sound artist Paul Marshall added two new pieces to the Sonic Sculpture Garden in the grounds of the Lyric. Paul Marshall created ‘The Whaleback’, a sonic sculpture resembling the back of a whale rising out of seawater, using rods and rocks collected from the shore. Technology students from St Joseph’s College helped create it, carefully drilling and gluing the rods and rocks, and looking at the overall and design of the piece.
Amanda Montgomery’s striking sculpture of a harp was created from green granite and limestone, inset with bronze twigs. The centre of the harp has a glass etching of an eye within the sun and the pupil of the eye has the birth/death Newgrange symbol, in keeping with the Lyric’s themes adopted from the Yeats’s poem To a Wealthy Man. The foundation stone for the Lyric is the portal over the main entrance, and carries the quote ‘Look Up in the Sun’s Eye’. Amanda’s piece symbolizes the notion of musicality, and ties in with the themes from Yeats’ poetry and of Celtic mythology already working within the garden. All of the pieces within the garden, both from this year and last year, work very much in harmony with the environment, and look as though they have naturally grown from the ground. The chimes in the garden sing in the wind, and the other pieces have made the glade in the Lyric a more creative environment.