Rachel Healy discusses Noah’s Egg, one of the thirty-five sculptures on the UCD Sculpture Trail
Noah’s Egg (2004) by Rachel Joynt, is one of the 35 sculptures dotted around UCD. The piece was commissioned by Ireland’s most successful horse-trainer, Dermot Weld, for the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. The egg-shaped monument, which is one of the largest sculptures on UCD’s campus, is 3.5 metres long and 2.3 metres wide. The UCD Sculpture Trail was created in 2008, by Ms. Ruth Ferguson, Curator of UCD Newman House, and Professor Emeritus Paula Murphy of the School of Art History and Cultural Policy, to catalogue the array of monuments on campus.
The artist, Rachel Joynt, was born in Kerry in 1966, grew up in Dublin and graduated with a Degree in Sculpture from the National College of Art & Design in 1989. Scale, the transformation of the typical viewpoint and symbolism are important components to the sculptor’s creations. Joynt’s work is predominantly site-specific and her most famous artworks are composed of other large spherical sculptures. The artist’s well-known monuments include Dearcan na nDaoine (the People’s Acorn), 2017 at Áras an Uachtaráin (Residence of the President) at the Phoenix Park, Dublin 8. This artwork consists of a 2.8 x 1.8 metre acorn, which also functions as a time capsule. The sealed stainless-steel monument is filled with predictions and cannot be opened until the year 2116. Another work is Perpetual Motion, 1995 which is the famous landmark in the centre of the roundabout, near the M7 Motorway in Naas, Co. Kildare. This large spherical dome, which measures nine meters in diameter, includes road markings and arrows to symbolise travel, wind and ocean currents - ultimately a planet in perpetual motion.
The egg is perforated with small holes, which, viewed through the hole at the pointed end of the egg, creates a celestial space consisting of a dark sky with white stars, evoking questions of time and origin.
The giant, cast-bronze, hollow egg sculpture in UCD was created specifically for the site between the Veterinary Science Building, the Science Building and O’Reilly Hall. The earthy-toned egg has a shell appearance and is textured with sperm-like shapes of various creatures including a man, bull, rabbit, guinea pig, rat, mouse and a hamster. The egg is presented on its side to create tension in the possibility that it might roll over. The Latin text beside the sculpture reads, 'Omne vivum ex ovo', which derives from the idea that all life originated from a single egg. At night, the egg is illuminated by a red glow, representing an incubator light. At the forefront, Noah’s Egg symbolizes reproduction, biology and genetics, but more deeply, the work signifies the foundations and potential of life, and represents the ambitions and academic pursuits of the Veterinary students at UCD.
What most people don’t know about Noah’s Egg is that it is an interactive sculpture. The egg is perforated with small holes, which, viewed through the hole at the pointed end of the egg, creates a celestial space consisting of a dark sky with white stars, evoking questions of time and origin.