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Rowan Gillespie SOLON'S LAW, 1996
Lot 108
Price Realised: €40,000
Estimate: €20,000 - €30,000
Rowan Gillespie RHA, b.1953 SOLON'S LAW, 1996 Bronze, patinated brown, Kilkenny Limestone, 185cm (h) x 120cm (w). In 1996 a Dutch police chief dropped into Galerie Husstege. The new police station in Boxmeer on the German border, wanted to commis... Read more
Lot 108 - SOLON'S LAW, 1996 by Rowan Gillespie Lot 108 Rowan Gillespie SOLON'S LAW, 1996
Estimate: €20,000 - €30,000
Rowan Gillespie RHA, b.1953
Bronze, patinated brown, Kilkenny Limestone, 185cm (h) x 120cm (w).

In 1996 a Dutch police chief dropped into Galerie Husstege. The new police station in Boxmeer on the German border, wanted to commission a work of art. He discussed the project with gallery owner Ria Husstege, who introduced him to the work of Rowan Gillespie. The astute policeman saw the potential in commissioning a work of sculpture to humanise the waiting room in the solemn new police station.

Desperately seeking inspiration, Rowan had long telephone conversations with the Dutch police about their ideals, until help came from Moira Gillespie with her vast knowledge of Greek philosophy. She steered Rowan towards the Athenian statesman and lawmaker Solon, who believed that in order to create a balanced society three pillars were needed. The first pillar represented 'The People' and the last represented 'An Authority' to create 'The Law'. To avoid corruption, however, it was necessary to create a balancing force: the central pillar, which became the first 'Police Force'.

Around 550BC, Solon had also created a code of laws for Athens to replace the 'draconian' laws of his predecessor, Draco. Mandatory death penalties were replaced by a judicial system that included the introduction of trial by jury. The law therefore bound humanity together in the same way that the Irish limestone capstone binds together the three figures of Solons Law.

The Greek world at that time was as familiar with the burden of debt as we are, both individually and nationally. Cash crops, notably olives and wine, were replacing the traditional wheat and sending the smaller, poorer farmers into debt. This burden of debt took the physical shape of great stones upon the landscape. Wherever the land was mortgaged stone markers were placed upon the land indicated the amount and scale of the burden. Greek farmers put up their bodies as collateral and when interest rates rose they were sold into slavery. It was Solon who took the revolutionary step of cancelling all pledges where a man's body had been given as guarantee. He freed all body debtors from bondage and made it illegal to enslave a debtor.

Here, Rowan had developed the traditional Celtic megalithic theme used so successfully in his Blackrock Dolmen. Fraol humanity is again held together by the need to support a great weight, in this case a sizeable chunk of Irish limestone. This time, however, the figures are struggling but the viewer nevertheless has the impression that they will succeed so long as they work together in harmony. They are trapped together in their destiny. In line with the Greek theme of balance and form, the sculpture's proportions are based on the golden mean, like the perfectly proportioned Acropolis and Rolls-Royce radiator.

Please note this lot will not be on display the The Merrion Hotel and can only be viewed by appointment. Please contact our office for details.
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