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04 June 2019

Stones that could speak a thousand words

Meeting with Luke Reddy from Aum in Co. Sligo, Ireland. A unique artist continuing an ancient tradition left behind by his ancestors.

© Luke Reddy

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself ? Your origins and background ?

My name is Luke, I’m 28, born and raised in Dublin but currently living by myself in a small house in Co. Sligo, 1km from the Atlantic coast. My reason for moving out here is basically to be beside the ocean as I surf pretty much every day which really drives me. I have my studio-workshop in the house where I bring my artwork to life. My days are usually governed by weather patterns, wind, swell and tide windows. I factor my work around getting the best window for a surf in so that could be morning or evening. I’m happy working into the night if I’ve had a good surf. I really value having a routine governed by nature’s patterns.

© Luke Reddy

What brought you to express yourself through sculpture and where do you draw your inspiration from ?

So I’ve always had a really keen interest in art and the effects it can have on people. I studied model making in college for a brief period in 2010, but other projects cut that short and for a long time I was just an art observer. In the last few years, a lot of transformations have taken place for me. I encountered a really difficult period in my life where I had to turn my back on everything I thought I valued and start again.
It actually took turning to meditation alone in nature to find the strength I needed to guide me back to the light. I’d hike to the top of a mountain near my home and meditate until sunrise 3/4 times a week. I even built a mini temple up there, balancing stone piles in concentric circles and it was in that place that I was able to find my own balance again. I am so grateful to be out the other side of that stormy period.
Meditation has become a huge part of my life, I still go up there to this day just not quite as often. It is very inspiring to return and see that others have visited and added to it. That makes me really happy. The whole place is a bit like a community land art project now, constantly evolving. It was through these experiences I felt connected with myself, with nature and with the vibrations of this ever changing beautiful planet. This really inspired me, and during my meditation, I started to visualise artwork that might inspire people to connect with nature and connect with themselves in similar ways, as it had only lasting positive effects for me. A lot of the inspiration for the artwork I create comes from what has been left here in Ireland by our ancestors as well as the natural landscapes where they now reside. In saying that, it definitely also comes from my own concepts, ideas and understanding of the physical world, some of which have been formed through my experiences in meditation and inner exploration, others from my keen interest in ancient peoples and cultures all over the world. I have always felt that these cultures lived more in harmony with the planet than we do and I believe this to be our primary downfall as a civilisation.
If I can use my artwork to help others find balance as well as conveying the message of respecting nature and protecting the planet, I’d be very happy.

© Luke Reddy

Could you explain the meaning and history of Ogham language and its significance for you ? What is its relevance in modern-day society (Ireland and worldwide) ?

Ogham is believed to be the first script that the Irish language was ever written in. Before Ogham, the Irish language was an oral tradition and so too was all of the knowledge and wisdom that it contained. Some studies suggest that Ogham was created as a secret cryptic script to hide and preserve knowledge from the invading Roman and Christian crusades. That information has always fascinated me, I have been captivated by the thought of a civilisation that didn’t use writing to preserve their knowledge. Essentially we can assume that Gaelic speaking peoples held that tradition prior to Christianity’s arrival in Ireland. Even more interesting is that early Irish actually bears strong resemblances to Sanskrit, sharing many words and even origins to a common Indo-European language spoken about 5000 years ago, roughly the same time we date other amazing stone monuments in Ireland such as Newgrange and the Loughcrew temples. Sanskrit as we know is an entire ocean of spiritual wisdom and teachings. Can you only imagine what knowledge we would have from ancient Ireland if it had been passed down. If it had been allowed to grow and continue. It’s a heartbreaking story really.
Ogham is such a beautiful script. It is read from bottom to top and can the thought of in a similar fashion to how a tree might grow, first you have your roots, then your trunk and then each letter is like the branches that make up the tree. In fact the Ogham alphabet is also referred to as the Tree Alphabet due to the fact that many of the letters are names of native trees around Ireland, they come with all sorts of folklore and meaning, for example, the letter Beith (birch) is the first letter of the Ogham alphabet, it symbolises new beginnings. Each tree also represents a different time of year, just like a zodiac. Birch then naturally is late December and January.
Ogham is important to me because it connects us to our ancestors. It is a link to the people who called Ireland their home prior to Christianity. Although we have very little knowledge of those people. It is the markings that they left in stone that stand the test of time. When I look at Ogham I can almost visualise the entire encyclopedia of that civilisation, I pay homage to them with my sculptures.

© Luke Reddy

In your own words, what would be the message you would want to convey through your art ?

I suppose through this artwork I am trying to convey a message of oneness with our environment. I consider it my endeavour to reconnect people with nature through creative expression, while also paying great respect to the cultures of ancient Ireland that were here before us. Furthermore I hope to inspire people to live a more harmonious life with the planet, taking on the responsibility to protect it together. I feel that the marks I make in stone are there to carry significance. Stone has been here a lot longer than we have, therefore, they have felt the entire vibration of mankind, it understands our struggles, it knows our triumphs and our failures. I use stone as my medium to convey important messages. If you can imagine a memento mori is there to remind us of our own mortality, I feel like my sculptures are there to remind us of oneness with all consciousness and all life.

© Luke Reddy

You can follow Luke on Instagram and his website to see his current work and projects.

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