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Aidan J.Breen -- Media

- The Ulysses Tower -
Aidan explains how it came into existence and the significance of the subjects contained in each each panel.

In 1961 at the age of sixteen I started upon a traditional seven year apprenticeship in a silversmithing workshop specializing in chasing and repousse. I can say with all honesty that I loved the work I was involved in. I moved on from my first place of work and found employment in a number of other silversminthing firms before setting up my own workshop in 1978. In my new workshop I started making jewellery with a Celtic theme and doing contract chasing/repousse work for other silversmiths. My first love was always repousse commissions that I could get my teeth into, these were not always available, and to keep the wolf from the door, from time to time I would do some carpentry work. I knew a bit about wood working because my father was a joiner and whatever about St. Joseph, my father could not abide being called a carpenter, he insisted he was a joiner. I also found as the years went by, that I was doing more jewellery work than chasing commissions, even though I was using my chasing skills to enhance the pieces of jewellery I was making. I was not greatly troubled about being unable to pursue the chasing/repousse work, but I did miss not doing it. Whatever work I got I appreciated and was glad to have it. When I work on a piece no matter what it is or how small, I try to give it my full attention and do the best I can on the piece because I am aware that it’s going to a particular person, as a gift from a loved one or to mark a special occasion.

So as you can imagine, I was delighted when at the start of 2005 Ronald Le Bas, Assay Master of Dublin Assay Office , commissioned me to make a piece for the Assay Offices collection. The brief was to produce something I had always wanted to make but never had an opportunity to. They wanted me to follow my heart’s desire and produce a masterpiece in silver featuring my chasing/repousse silversmithing skills.

My idea was to make a piece inspired by James's Joyce's Ulysses' it was something I had always wanted to do. I had been interested in Ulysses for a long time I used to work with a fellow chaser who used to recite Molly Bloom’s soliloquy. Ulysses has as its main characters Leopold Bloom a Jewish Dubliner, his wife Molly, Blazes Boylan, Stephen Dedalus and the city of Dublin. The book spans roughly twenty six hours in the life of these figures plus a host of other memorable characters. It is set in Dublin, on the 16th of June 1904.

I came up with the idea of a Moorish Tower inspired by the fact that Molly in the Penelope episode describes her first sexual adventures under a Moorish Wall, so I said to myself why not a Moorish Tower wall. That then gave me a jumping off point, a tower would suit my purposes. The Tower is set in a bed of blooms. On top of the main Tower are two smaller towers decorated by my version of Moorish interlacing, the Tower is topped off with a potato, (Bloom carries a small potato in his pocket all through the day for luck.) which holds a representation of the sun another star of Ulysses'. Around the main Tower are 18 panels or blocks one for each episode of Ulysses the episodes spiral their way around the tower from the bottom up to the top. Each panel features my take on the particular episode. The overall height of the Tower is 22" the base is 11" wide each panel is approx. 3"sq. It weighs 5 kilos.

The base features some of the flowers mentioned in Ulysses, by no means all. There is a PhD. in the number of blossoms mentioned in Ulysses and also the plants and trees and substances made from plants that blossom. The Llily and the Poppy lie together in harmony on the base .Among some of the other flowers which are, the Jersey Lily, Jessamine, Sunflower, Daisy, Wild Irish Rose, The Rose of Castile, A Common or Garden Rose, Bramble, Orange Blossom, Rhododendrons, Clematis, Forget me Not, Wood Anemone. The Violet and a Cactus Blossoming from Molly's Gibraltar and Blazes Boylan's Carnation.

 

A video interview that I have done recently for McCormack’s Jewellers of Grafton Street, Dublin.


This video was made by my friend, Matt Ryan - I have to say,I'm delighted with the end result. 

 

 

 



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  24.11.2017
Aidan Breen : Gold & Silversmith
Aidan Breen : Gold & Silver Art