DUBLIN'S LAST SUPPER:  A new artwork by John Byrne

John Byrne: Dublin's Last Supper, 2004, photograph screen-printed onto vitreous enamel, 220 x 930 cm; courtesy Cliodhna Shaffrey; more information on the artwork here; project curated by Cliodhna Shaffrey

DUBLIN'S LAST SUPPER is the latest work by artist John Byrne and has been commissioned by M & J Wallace Ltd for its courtyard at Blooms Lane, Lower Ormond Quay on the North side of the River Liffey.

Byrnes "Supper" is a 9.3 x 2.2 metre photo work screen-printed onto vitreous enamel. Consisting of a cast of 13, it depicts a re-enactment (with an Irish twist) of da Vinci's famous masterpiece.

John Byrne: Dublin's Last Supper(detail), 2004, photograph screen-printed onto vitreous enamel, 220 x 930 cm; courtesy Cliodhna Shaffrey

Reflective of a changing society and the growing cultural mix in Dublin, Byrne sees Dublin's Last Supper as an expression of "positive politics and his faith in ordinary people". Amongst its messages is the suggestions that neither institution nor religion - in this case Christian - has a monopoly on goodness. 

To assemble the apostles, Byrne walked the City and approached people asking them "if they would like to partake in the Last Supper'.  The final selection, dressed by the artist in emblematic garments, could - without these garments - represent a cross section of people encountered in any ordinary day in the City's streets.  The thirteen, from left to right, are: Bartholomew: Jude O Dochartaigh, tattoo artist; James the Less: Vernoica, librarian; Andrew: Eddie Salim, from east Africa; Judas: Frank Conlon, actor and drama facilitator; Peter: Henry; John: Julie Kerrigan, employee at Pavee Point Travellers' Centre; Jesus: Kulpreet Singh, PhD student at Trinity College, Dublin; Thomas: Willie Crowley, ecologist; James the Great: Leighton, student at Cornell University; Philip: Diana Sabogal, student at the American College, Dublin; Mathew: Alan Kavanagh, architecture student at DIT, Dublin; Thaddeus: Aloysius McKenna, building worker; Simon: Michael Foley, network analyst. And the extra hand behind Judas is that of Jonathan Hession, photographer.

John Byrne: Dublin's Last Supper(detail), 2004, photograph screen-printed onto vitreous enamel, 220 x 930 cm; courtesy Cliodhna Shaffrey

Collaborating with a team including: photographer: Johantan Hession; stage director; Laragh Pittmann; Photo Retouching: Rory McAllorum; Costumes: Jean Cronin; Film Processing: Ciaran Rooney and Assistant Photographer: Fionn Hession, the making of the work resembled the staging and shooting of a scene in a film. The "Supper", whose table is laid with wine, fruit, Irish soda bread, salt, bitter herbs and a tea pot, was shot in St Michael's and St John's Church, Temple Bar, the background scenes shot separately include, St Luke's a church, now a ruin, located in the Coomb, and, the view onto the dome of the Four Courts has been taken from the roof of Temple Bar Gallery and Studios.  

The project is curated by Clíodhna Shaffrey, who felt that an artist like John Byrne, noted for his satirical wit, ability to get under the skin and hit a pulse, might respond to the nuances of Mick Wallace's (the patron's) persona with his interest in politics, philosophy, Italy, wine and passion for the beautiful game. Managing to please his patron, Byrne tucks a Juventus shirt, into the corner, behind where Simon sits and adds the Italian club's name in its signature font, to the already graffitied and crumbling wall of the old church setting. As with religion, the emblem is integral to football culture.

John Byrne: Dublin's Last Supper(detail), 2004, photograph screen-printed onto vitreous enamel, 220 x 930 cm; courtesy Cliodhna Shaffrey

Previously acclaimed work by this artist includes: The Border Interpretive Centre (Louth/Armagh border- 2000) and his video Would you die for Ireland? commemorating the bi-centenary of Robert Emmet.  Byrne's work has been acclaimed for its 'slightly mad but strangely instructive' qualities (Sean O Hagen, The Observer, Review, 18th March 2001) and he has been describes as one of surprisingly few Irish artists who consistently deals with issues focusing on Ireland, it's history, and Irishness". (Marianne Hartigan, Sunday Tribune 19th October '03)

Dublin's Last Supper will be installed this week and will be open on Saturday 31st July 2004. It will be then on show into the unforeseeable future.

For further details contact: Cliodhna Shaffrey cshaffrey@shaffrey.ie.

Back to CIRCA text