Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1963 Lives and works in London England
Siobhán Hapaska draws upon the olive tree’s politically and culturally-charged 7000-year history to express loss, warn of the future, and reassert hope. A Great Miracle Needs to Happen There
adopts the form of the Hanukkah menorah, but at first glance presents a darkened version of this Festival of Lights, which commemorates the miracle of the tiny jar of oil that lasted for eight days, signaling divine protection. Industrial engine stands coated in brass and solder act as ‘candlesticks’ for ‘candles’ composed of blackened and barren olive tree trunks that, like a menorah, are arranged on either side of a ‘shammash’ (servant): a whole olive tree, complete with root ball. Although a universal emblem of peace, the historically and economically symbolic olive tree has been at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet while Hapaska’s installation may be read as a memorial to the 800,000 olive trees that have been uprooted during the conflict, both the trees and the ‘there’ of her title resonate globally. The burnt tree trunks manifest nature’s destruction and loss throughout the world, but the shammash suggests endurance and renewal, implying that great miracles are indeed needed, but possible.
Photo: A Great Miracle Needs to Happen There, 2011,
olive trees ‘Olea europaea’, lead free solder, brass, steel, cast iron, 9 elements, dimensions of each item vary.
Courtesy Hidde van Seggelen, London
and Kerlin Gallery, Dublin