The action of the sea washed out the cellulose in the soft part of the wood and exposed the harder parts.
By mistake this particular piece of oak was left in the ocean for 33 years and became useless for boat building.
The patterns of erosion on the sculpture were caused by sea water washing across a slab of oak for thirty three years. We can see the gentle force of water at work on the surface of the sculpture.
A large part of my sculptural practice is collecting materials and exploring new ways of making things. Observing the forces of nature at work on matter intrigue me and I collect natural things that have been eroded or attritioned.
Despite the years of collecting materials, this is the first time that I have used a found form for a large scale project. The slab of oak took two years to dry out in my studio and over this time I decided that I wanted to make it permanent by moulding it and casting it in bronze. It is patinated to look like petrified wood.”
This work ‘Atlantic Oak’ will serve in the years to come as a reminder of the defences built to protect the town from flooding. These defence works, carried out over the period 2010 to 2013, have proved to be successful and have provided much relief for those living in the area who have suffered many devastating floods over the years.
The Tip O’ Neill park setting will allow many to reflect and appreciate the work at leisure and will attract audiences interested in O’Connell’s art work, and in art generally, to appreciate this latest significant commission.