The Morrígan At Nevill Holt
8th June 2022 – 10th July 2022
This summer, the historic site Nevill Holt in Leicestershire will host, in conjunction with its annual Opera and Summer festivals, the largest sculptural work by the British-Irish artist Luke Alen-Buckley. Nevill Holt Opera’s permanent home is one of the most uniquely intimate opera houses in the UK.
Set in the stunning gardens designed by Chelsea gold medal winner Rupert Golby a three-piece monumental work, titled The Morrígan will be the centrepiece of this exhibition.
Each of the three sculptures stands three metres tall and comprises a 15-tonne sculpted blue limestone glacial erratic rock from Tipperary, Ireland, suspended within a steel ring. Sixteen further sculptures will be arranged around the grounds of Nevill Holt alongside an outstanding permanent collection of British art and sculpture featuring works by Antony Gormley, Allen Jones, Marc Quinn, Nic Fiddian Green, Conrad Shawcross and Sean Henry, among others, setting the grounds for reflection on environmental questions and the human impact on the planet.
Luke Alen-Buckley has long been fascinated by the geological history, memory, and metamorphosis of the earth. Leaving his art degree at Edinburgh School of Art for a degree in Physics he soon came to appreciate a more scientific and environmental approach to art, that would deeply root him to geological formations.
In his first sculptural series, Alen-Buckley used boulders deposited by the icesheet at the foot of the Knockmealdown mountains, close to his studio in Co Waterford.
Alen-Buckley’s assiduous work carving and polishing these stones lies in revealing their embedded fossils and veins, as presented by the series Talisman 2020 at Nevill Holt. Also on display will be Memento Mori – A Conversation with Mortality, a series Alen-Buckley began in 2019 using stone, steel, and water. As with most of his sculptural works, these hollowed-out stones are designed to interact with the environment, evoking an object of devotion. In this way these 340-million-year-old glacial erratic boulders acquire a transcendental meaning that harks back to ancient traditions and beliefs.
The Morrígan takes its title from the ancient Celtic pre-pagan triadic goddess, also described as ‘phantom queen’. She appears to date from around the Copper Age, based on archaeological findings. Morrígan is one of the most complex figures in Irish mythology, not least due to her genealogy representing three different women in one being.
In particular, the Morrígan elicits contrasting characteristics of sovereignty and fate, war and death, and rebirth and hope.
The nature of the goddess is evoked in Alen-Buckley’s sculpture bestowing it an elemental symbolism like an ancient stone stela; the triplicate form indicates a belief that the many comes from the One Source, simultaneously expressing communion and individuality. The three steel rings carefully enfold each individual stone, each unique in its own universe yet part of a bigger whole.
Alen-Buckley works in all types of natural boulders from across the British Isles and Ireland yet in this series he returns to his favoured Irish blue limestone. He found these great glacial
erratics in his neighbouring County Tipperary where, unless ‘rescued’ by him, they would have been unceremoniously crushed for limestone aggregate.
Nevill Holt Opera Festival 2022:
La Boheme; 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 14th June
Barber of Saville; 23rd, 25th, 26th, 28th, 29th June
Summer Festival 2022 10th & 24th June, 5th to 10th July.
Location Nevill Holt Opera, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 8EG
How to get there The nearest train station to Nevill Holt Opera is Market Harborough, and is easily reached from stations in London (only 54 minutes), Birmingham and Nottingham, amongst others. From Market Harborough station, you will need to take a fifteen minute taxi to Nevill Holt. Taxis are usually available at the station but it is recommended to arrange these in advance. Parking is available free of charge at Nevill Holt Opera, in the field opposite the entrance to the gardens.
Box Office Tickets available from www.nevillholtopera.co.uk
Summer Festival: Tickets start at £25.7