Sculpture in Context 2013, Botanic Gardens, Dublin

This year once again I collaborated with my sister Madeleine Hellier to develop two site specific artworks for Sculpture in Context 2013 at National Botanic Gardens opening on Wednesday 4th September and continuing until 18th October.

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This work takes as its inspiration from the naturally formed silhouetted space provided by the lhuge redwood tree  – an area that always draws the eye whether starting out on a visit to the gardens, returning from a walk via curvilinear house or viewing the gardens from the visitor centre. The piece comprises five wires impregnated with bird feed which will be visible from all aspects to create the impression of a musical stave and with a separately constructed treble clef to complete the work.  The intention is that over the course of the exhibition the interaction of wild birds with the piece will create evolving and changing birdsongs from the plain chant of a single bird on the stave to the potential of rich chords created by larger gatherings.

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Fordlândia takes its inspiration from the now-abandoned, prefabricated industrial town established in the Amazon Rainforest in 1928 by American industrialist Henry Ford to secure a source of cultivated rubber for the automobile manufacturing operations of the Ford Motor Company in the United States. His thousands of new cars needed millions of tyres, which were very expensive to produce when buying raw materials from the established rubber lords. To that end, Ford established Fordlândia – a tiny piece of America which was transplanted into the Amazon rain forest for a single purpose: to create the largest rubber plantation on the planet avoiding the dependence on British Malayan rubber. Though enormously ambitious, the project was ultimately a fantastic failure.

This artwork comprises a settlement of scale model replicas of the clapboard American style houses, the power plant, watertower and the Island of Innocence – the settlement of bars and nightclubs established upstream by the inhabitants to circumvent Ford’s prohibition on alcohol, women and tobacco in the town. In the same way that Ford attempted to transplant a tiny part of America to the Amazon rainforest this artwork transplants a tiny model of Fordlândia to under the rubber plants at The Great Palm House.


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