American artist and lecturer Tamsie Ringler was invited to Ireland in the summer of 2018 to take part in IRON-R18. This is the third iteration, since its inception in 2012, of the Iron-R Project, a cast iron expansive workshop, based in the National Sculpture Factory designed and developed by artist & CIT/CCAD lecturer James L Hayes in association with the National Sculpture Factory and CIT Crawford College of Art & Design.
Tamsie’s proposition for IRON-R 18 was for a large public performance where the general public could witness a ‘live’ pour of the molten metal and the creation of her new artwork, concieved to relate directly to the specificity of the location and its surrounding landscape – a large scale casting of the life blood of Cork city, the river Lee and its many tributaries. This gave birth to the River Lee Project.
The IRON-R Project was established in 2011, by artist & CIT/CCAD lecturer James L Hayes in collaboration with the National Sculpture Factory and CIT Crawford College of Art & Design. The objective was to explore and expand the underused and often under-appreciated medium of cast iron and investigate an array of casting techniques and processes to generate new artworks in a contemporary context. Many of theses iron casting processes have become obsolete in Ireland and the IRON-R Project is designed as a an opportunity for both emerging and established artists to re-engage with this lost medium and its technologiesThe project ran for the first time in April 2012, and then for a second time in April 2014, hosting artists and art students from Ireland, the UK and the USA who worked collaboratively on a broad range of projects and sculptural productions.
In 2014, we produced a large-scale performative work with invited American artist Matt Toole. This hugely dramatic performative work, titled Meitheal na hAbhann, was staged at the Marina Industrial Park on the banks of the River Lee, where a large public audience gathered for the spectacle.
Thanks to the support of Cork City Council Arts Office Project Scheme Award, as well as funding and support from the National Sculpture Factory, was able to subsidise a significant number of participants for IRON R18. And this year also used the sculpture studios at CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, to facilitate the mould-making element of the project.
Overall, there was 28 participants in IRON-R 18, comprising of students, project artists, selected artists and staff from CIT Crawford College of Art and Design and the National Sculpture Factory. This included US artist Tamsie Ringler; Irish artist Rachel Fallon; US-based artist Rian Kerrane; artist Kathryn Kng from Singapore supported by the Irish Legacy Fund; collaborative printmaking duo HEHIR&NOONAN; alongside a team from the NSF staff.
The IRON R18 Project was conceived as an intensive 6-day laboratory taking place from Mon 16th – Sat 21st July 2018 and took place across two venues CIT Crawford College of Art & Design for the mould making process and the National Sculpture Factory for the pouring and post-production. It was carefully constrcuted to encourage the cross-pollination of ideas and practices, both traditional and contemporary allowing participants to create new artworks while exploring this underused medium and process and allows artists to work in a collaborative and communal way.
From its source in the Shehy Mountains on the Cork-Kerry border to where it empties into the Irish Sea at Cork Harbour, the River Lee embodies over 5000 years of human habitation and experience. Tamsie Ringler’s River Lee Project focuses on the importance of the River Lee to the daily life and heritage of Cork City and its surrounding areas. Iron is an elemental metal that signifies our connection with the world on a primal level. It runs through our bloodstream in much the same way as rivers run through our landscape. With the looming threat of flood-walls around Cork City The River Lee project represents our physical and emotional connection to the our rivers and the importance of maintaining that connection.
The final piece is now a 200kg solid iron sculpture. It is 3000mm in length and 1200mm tall by 30mm in thickness. It can be wall mounted onto any suitable wall by our NSF staff.
Tamsie Ringler studied Art at the University of Wisconsin and received her MFA in Sculpture from the University of Texas at Austin. She teaches sculpture and foundry at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and serves on the Board of Directors of Franconia Sculpture Park where she leads the annual Hot Metal Residency and Valentine’s Day Iron Pour. In 2014 she co-directed the 7th International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art at the Pedvāle Open-Air Art Museum in Latvia. Recent notable works include Ainavas Galds (Landscape Table) and River of Iron, an overnight iron pour spectacle casting a twenty foot mold of the Mississippi River watershed. Current awards include a McKnight Fellowship in Visual Art and Still Life an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, November 15 – February 24, 2019. http://www.tamsie.com/