First Thousand days
UCD Agriculture centre hosted a morning presenting their work to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. I was commissioned to create a sculpture to be offered to the Princess as a momento of her visit to UCD farm. It was a great honour to meet with Shirinhorn, Princess Royal of Thailand and present the sculpture to her.
This piece is inspired by a number of elements ranging from Irish heritage to contemporary research and reflects some of Princess Maha’s long-term interests, which include epigraphy and her international work on the welfare of mother and child.
The two limestone forms represent mother and child. The larger maternal stone protects, the smaller stone as it nestles inside the smooth groove securely. The shape and inscription on the sculpture are influenced by Ancient Standing stones, called Ogham stones, which have been discovered all over Ireland. Although the original purpose of the Ogham stones is unclear it’s thought that stones are inscribed with the names of prominent people and sometimes, tribal affiliation or geographical areas.
Ogham is a writing system of various straight lines and notches. These inscriptions constitute the earliest recorded form of the Irish language and, as the records date back at least as far as the 5th century AD, they are a significant resource for historians as well as linguists and archaeologists. The 25-letter alphabet was supposedly inspired by Ogma, god of eloquence. Ogham was carved and read from bottom to top. Current understanding is that the names of the main twenty letters are also the names of 20 trees sacred to the druids.
The inscription in the ancient ogham alphabet on the ‘mother’ stone “IN CETMILAE LAE” , translates as “The first thousand days” which is a theme of the research programme of UCD the Institute of Food and Health science. This research explores the critical importance of nutrition for babies and children during the first thousand days of live.
Irish limestone: The main sculpture is carved from limestone as it is the predominant base stone of Ireland. Approximately 40% of the island of Ireland, and 50% of the Republic, is underlain by limestone.
Irish Yew Taxus baccata: The holding base for the sculpture is made of yew. The yew is a symbol of death and rebirth, the new that springs out of the old. The yew was considered a highly symbolic tree for the Irish Celts, and Yew is the Fifth vowel and last letter of the Ogham alphabet - Idho