© By Paddy McCann
“Cryptbrick (1991) took the form of a tower chimney constructed from deliberately chosen old red bricks approximately 21 foot high and reaching to the glazed roof of the Old Museum Arts Centre, a space for which it was conceived. It rose from a plinth slightly wider than the uniform section of the tower shaft, which finished abruptly without any crowning feature. Placed into the ‘tower’ near the top, well out of human arms reach were two filing cabinet drawers. A red light was fitted within the interior but could only be detected when glimpsed through a few bullet holes, marked out by chalk squares and piercing the brick at random. Around the gallery walls were portrait images of his artist collaborators in the Shifting Ground project, treated in a brick-like mosaic technique, as in magazine ‘guess the celebrity’ images.
As the description of the work begins to establish, Cryptbrick was ambitiously sweeping in its historical and contemporary connotations. The ‘tower’ itself embraced thoughts of earlier Irish defence towers, lighthouses, high-rise flats, industrial buildings and active surveillance towers. The filing cabinet drawers could be opened, but not without prior arrangement and effort, given their inaccessibility. Any information they contained would be subject classified. The tower became officialdom and an impregnable powerbase. The red light pulsed a warning, or could be read as reflecting the rapid heartbeat of the incarcerated. This highly resolved installation piece, with its multi-layered meanings, built up and itemized by the industrial brick, would be dismantled later by an act of performance by the artist.”
From Thinking Long Contemprary Art in the North of Ireland by Liam Kelly
Gandon Editions, Kinsale 1996.
Installation with paintings oil on canvas
First exhibited in 1991 at Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast.
Tower dismantled after exhibition.
Paintings are in the collection of the Arts Council of England.