James Turrell «Irish Sky Garden» 1991.
«The American artist, James Turrell, hired a plane to make several observational trips around the Liss Ard garden grounds. He designed the Sky Garden to complement the rounded and pyramid-like shapes of natural landscape that surround this ancient Celtic High Fort after which the townland is called, Liss Ard» explains Brian Hennessy, who manages the Liss Ard Foundation.
Turrell's Irish Sky Garden interweaves inner and outer worlds. «The most important thing is that inside turns into outside and the other way around, in the sense that relationships between the Irish landscape and sky changes.» ~ James Turrell
Turrell's concept was realized in southwest Ireland on the Liss Ard Foundation estate. It comprises four structures: an elliptical crater, a softly rounded hill, a pyramid and a yard-like space around. These elements are connected either visually at points or by exterior or underground pathways.
Liss Ard, near Skibbereen is certainly an unusual place. It played host to some of the biggest names in the rock industry at a concert last week, a natural acoustic valley, yet it is a haven of peace and tranquillity.
A few minutes south of Skibbereen on Lake Abisdealy is one of the more unusual gardens to find in this undeveloped spot. The Liss Ard project is the brainchild of Claudia and Veith Meister Turske, she is Swiss, he is German, who moved here a few years ago. Claudia told us of their New Age dream of creating a public wildlife garden, with park land, waterfalls, hills, sounds of water, arboretums and three sculptured 'experiences,' the Crater, the Pyramid and the Sky Garden, designed by the California artist James Turrell and not yet completed. Local observers have remarked that this part of Ireland is already in effect a public park, with waterfalls, hills, wildlife and so forth, so why make the tremendous effort of time and money, they planted 10,000 trees and shrubs in six weeks, in an attempt to recreate what is already there? Bizarre in conception. Ireland was the only place in western Europe where the couple could acquire enough land and wildly difficult to pull off, the Liss Ard Experience is at the moment a garden in progress. ~ Cait Ni Lochlainn.
The crater sky garden took five months to make. It is a perfectly round shape of spherical lawn reached by a tomb-like entrance. A stone body-rest lies at the centre where it is possible to lie face upwards and observe the sky as if it were a projected image in an outdoor planetarium. Four more sky gardens are planned.
«Being a previous 'student' of Turrells, I knew about the Liz Ard gardens from 1992 when he was working on the plans. After college I moved to the Bavarian Alps to live in a ski resort called Garmisch Partenkirchen. For the past 5 years I have been touring around Europe appreciating art and artist like Turrell. Most recently, I visited Liz Ard gardens and was blown away, yet again by his 'spaces.' Although only one of five spaces is even near complete, it was one of the most inriguing art experiences I can remember, bordering on religious. Anyone even remotely familiar with his work should make an effort, should opportunity provide to visit these wonderful gardens. The town of Skiberdee is an amazingly quaint coastal town in County Cork. I wrote the tourism council there who provided me with information to stay in town as wells maps and other things to do in the area.
If you're anywhere near Ireland, go see the Mini Crater, Turrell has created there, you will not be dissappointed. As funding and time provides, the other four pieces will take shape, offering an even more valuable look into Turrells moving medium. You won't regret it.» ~Chris Schooler, cyburbia dot org, 1997.