Rung by Rung
Pearse Street Heath Care Centre, Dublin 2009
‘Rung by Rung’ (2009) was created for the interior courtyard space of the new Pearse Street Heath Care Centre. The piece is a 30-foot tall, bright white ladder, created using aluminium and neon tube lighting, which is suspended in such a way that it seems to levitate at a 45º angle against the walls of the building. The dark, glossy surfaces and windows of the interior courtyard reflect the neon ladder’s crooked form, which tapers and become narrower towards the top, as if to stretch beyond the height of the space. Viewed through the windows, it appears as an ‘ethereal, otherworldly sculptural form’, signifying personal and collective fragility, struggle, ambition, hope and aspiration, within the context of the ‘care institution’.
The artist’s interest lies in how public artwork can “reach out to talk to the local community, members of staff and patient/clients, expressing these individual aspirations within the fabric of the work”. Operating on several ‘levels’, ‘Rung by Rung’ is at once a physical manifestation of a ladder (composed in glass, aluminium, electricity, neon gas), while also being a signifier, indicating the ‘possibility’ of a ladder, embodying a semiotic relationship between the sign and the thing itself.
O’Connell states: “It could be argued that for most of us, most of the time, we experience contemporary life as a series of signs, moving quickly past our eyes: – a symptom of visual culture. Yet with form, as with health, we move beyond the image and the symptom of something, its image or sign, and recognize that we live with and within the thing itself. There is both the abstract relation to the problem or issue as it is named, and then there is what we are experiencing, perhaps with fear and trepidation, or with resolve and determination. Either way, we must reconcile what we actually know of ourselves, and the knowledge from others of what is happening, what can happen or what needs to be done”.
Pearse Street Primary Care Centre is a purpose-built health centre in Mark’s Lane in Dublin’s south inner city, and was completed in 2009 to house a facility accommodating the primary care services provided by the HSE for the local area. Designed by A& D Wejcherts and Partners, the three-storey building is configured around a central courtyard, providing light and views for all of the rooms, while adding tranquillity to a noisy and confined city centre location.