... a flurry of white birds taking flight ... to draw your eyes ... and your mind upwards...
Eighteen white birds take flight up the side of the Marie Curie Cancer Care Hospice at Springburn in Glasgow. The piece is called THE SPRINGBURN HENS ... 'Hen' being a term of endearment in the Tartan Isle.
The hospice staff are very down to earth (Glas)'Wegian Hens', who care for the people with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses. They give sensitive end of life care, alongside support for families, without cost to the users. This is delivered with unremitting kind-heartedness with a wicked and irreverent sense of humour.
The bronze 'Hens' make the bond between these unstoppable doves of love and hope and the pragmatic everydayness of the pigeon so familiar to us all.
Reflecting the 'hands-on' nature of palliative care, the birds are made of hand prints taken from patients, staff, volunteers and local kids, and cast into bronze. These light shell-like castings are full of movement, and if you spend time with them, varied and sometimes even comedic relationships can be discerned in the piece.
It is always daunting to approach a Hospice for the first time, whether as a patient or visitor. This sculpture informs the first impression. Patinated white, and at over seven meters high, it makes a uplifting and calming statement on the large wall at the entrance to the new Hospice.
The Dove's connection with Marie Curie cannot be overlooked, as a symbol of world peace. The quest for peace was an overriding motivation for her career, her ethics as well as her personal life. It is not insignificant that she was the first woman to receive the Noble Peace Prize. The white colouring has been achieved by patinating the bronze with Bismuth, which is the element used by Marie Curie to isolate Polonium, which led to her discovery of Radium. Bismuth is however not radioactive and perfectly safe in this context
THE SPRINGBURN HENS provides a gentle way of engaging our busy, distracted thoughts and returning them to an awareness of our position in life, both personally, and from the perspective of our relationships with each other.
The sculpture was made possible thanks to a donation from Tesco, specifically for the provision of art.
Marie Curie Cancer Care is one of the UK's largest charities.
This piece was commissioned.
This piece can be viewed by the public.
Dimensions: Approx 7m x 5m x 30cm deep
Collection: MARIE CURIE CANCER CARE UK