A superb new artwork, “The Longsleeper“, was unveiled for the Spring 2015 re-opening of Oakfield Park, Raphoe, Co. Donegal. Commissioned by Sir Gerry & Lady Heather Robinson, it was designed by Locky Morris, the artist who created the imposing Polestar sculpture in Letterkenny.
Longsleeper is made from 17 tons of Oak and appears to perform visual and structural acrobatics! This impressive sculpture has to be seen to be believed. Oakfield Park is renowned for is narrow gauge train and some of the inspiration for the piece comes from the railway.
The levers to alter the direction of the track at the ‘points’ were traditionally secured to a long sleeper. “This sense of movement and change is a central idea of the piece”, said Locky. Sited on the spiral mound it reveals itself to train passengers in a very dynamic way as they journey around the mound.
No two views will be the same, as the straight oak sleepers appear to twist and turn, almost defying gravity. The spiral shape is reminiscent of the double helix of DNA, the genetic instructions for the building of all new life.
This birth, or rebirth theme, connects too, to the Biblical story of the awaking of the long sleepers at Ephesus. All in all there is a strong sense here of something new and life affirming emerging from the landscape.
Locky said, “Oak is meant to make an obvious link with the name of the park but the dynamic revolving shape also echoes the spiral leaf arrangement on oak trees. I have visited the park in the past with my own young children and we were all knocked out with the place and especially its beautiful working railway and I tried to inject a sense of playfulness and lightness of touch to this very large and heavy structure”.
Longsleeper can also be clearly seen in perfect alignment with the middle of Oakfield Park House, 750mtrs away, in keeping with the Georgian design ethos and the gardens. Its circular aspect frames the distant Croaghan Hill, with the ancient burial mound, where it appears to curl up and spin towards the sky.