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Stations of the Cross (2008)

Digital video (4 min 45 secs, looped)

Crows vying to roost on St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh, Ireland ‘recompose’ the Irish/Australian ballad ‘The Wild Colonial Boy’ in bells/organ/choir, with each point of the cross made active to their touch. If the crows were to cooperate and sit on each point for the duration of the tune, the bushranger Jack Doolan would be shot in the face. Thus the cathedral becomes an instrument, and the birds musicians, rendering the cathedral capable of bringing the ballad to life, and killing the Irish-Australian outlaw.

This work explores issues of diaspora, cultural crossover, displacement, identification and dislocation. Lyrics about a bushranger son of Irish ex-convicts, written in Australia in the late 1800s, were set to a ballad composed many years earlier in Ireland. Meanwhile the cathedral itself (building commenced 1868; completed 1915) was funded by the Irish diaspora.

 

 

Materials:

 

HD blue ray or media on hard drive; framed text (see below)

 

Installation requirements:

 

240V power supply; Blu-ray player or Mac computer; HD LCD/plasma screen (must be mountable on a wall/plinth in portrait (not landscape) format); stereo sound through 2 speakers.

Adjacent to the screen, on wall/plinth, sits a framed print-out of the ballad ‘The Wild Colonial Boy’ (see text below).

 

Text:

There was a wild colonial boy, Jack Doolan was his name

Of poor but honest parents he was born in Castlemaine

He was his father’s only hope, his mother’s only joy,

The pride of both his parents was the wild colonial boy.

Chorus:

So come all me hearties, we’ll range the mountainside

Together we will plunder; together we will ride.

We’ll scour along the valleys, and gallop o’er the plains

We scorn to live in slavery bound down with iron chains.

In sixty-one this darling boy commenced his wild career.

With a heart that knew no danger, no foeman did he fear.

He held up the Beechworth mailcoach and he robbed Judge MacEvoy

Who trembled and gave up his gold to the wild colonial boy.

Chorus

One day as he was riding the mountainside along,

A-listening to the little birds their pleasant laughing song

Three mounted troopers came in view, Kelly, Davis and Fitzroy

And thought that they would capture him, the wild colonial boy.

Chorus

Surrender now Jack Doolan, you see there’s three to one

Surrender now Jack Doolan, you daring highwayman!’

He drew a pistol from his belt and twirled it like a toy.

‘I’ll fight but I won’t surrender,’ said the wild colonial boy.

Chorus

He fired at Trooper Kelly and brought him to the ground,

And in return from Davis received a mortal wound.

All shattered through the jaws he lay, still firing at Fitzroy.

And that’s the way they captured him, the wild colonial boy.