Monkey Puzzle – 1998

Sculpture in Context ’98, Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin.

Person shaped scone in jar, installation detail, 1998

Wall papered and painted panels, detail, 1998

Layout and Description: Children’s wall paper will be mounted on 3 panels 4ft. high. These panels will be over painted in white and off white paint then scraped back and over painted and scraped to reveal a layered surface, that alludes to an excavation of the walls history. These panels will be hung at 4 ft. off the ground on 3 of the cell walls (see maquette). The table will be placed in the centre of the room. The jar with the biscuits inside will be fixed on top of the table with a clear glue. “Monkey Puzzle” is an installation which investigates the issues surrounding the incarceration of children for theft of food, in Kilmainam Gaol. The work relies on the device of the classic monkey trap i.e. a jar with a fruit bait inside, and an opening that is large enough to accommodate a hands entry, but small enough to prevent a hand holding the fruit to exit. The work examines the dilemmas that children face during periods of food scarcity, and the reciprocal nature of the crime and the punishment. “Monkey Puzzle” attempts to raise the question of the innocence of children trapped by an inability to perceive the consequences of their actions. In order to escape the trap the child victim must release the food and thereby remain hungry, to keep the food is to become imprisoned. The biscuit people, within the glass jar, are not only suggestive of the lives that have been lured and trapped by their basic need to eat, but also of a societal paradox which creates the circumstances where a person will become incarcerated in order to receive a basic diet. It is my intention that “Monkey Puzzle” will be a subtle intervention that will draw on the inherent history of the space, to create meaning in a poignant and reflective manner, without intruding on the fabric of the Gaol.


Monkey Puzzle, 1998

Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol Wiki
Sculpture in Context