An Artist's Response to the Offaly Scientist John Joly

John Joly

Visual Artist Amanda Rice has been artist in residence in Trinity College Dublin as part of an Offaly County Council commissioned public art project engaging with artefacts and objects bequeathed to the college by the Offaly scientist and geologist John Joly (1857-1933). Joly was a prolific scientist and geologist, who is famous for his development of radiotherapy in the treatment of cancer. He is also known for developing techniques to accurately estimate the age of a geological period, based on radioactive elements present in minerals as well as colour plate photography.

Commissioned as part of the Secrets of Offaly public art project (other projects are underway in Clara and Kinnitty), Rice will present an interactive public art work in the Village of Clonbullogue, Offaly on Monday August 10th at 1.30pm, which focuses on one particular aspect of John Joly’s research on the Indonesian volcano of Krakatoa which first erupted in 1883. The project will be launched by Dr Ciaran Reilly of NUI Maynooth and all are welcome.

'I was really interested in the scope and vision of John Joly's inventions”, says Rice. “There was an incredible sense of diversity and imagination to his life works. For me I feel it was the manner of how he articulated these works within his written academic papers that was most interesting. He had an incredibly poetic manner of describing the results of his experiments which I feel lent itself quite well to creating a visual artwork'.
Entitled “Notes on the (Microscopical) Character of Krakatoa” the interactive installation comprises of a research presentation and first public viewing of an interactive artwork composed of sound, video and sculpture. The viewer can expect to peer into a geometric sculptural object and see video images of Joly's artefacts  and hear a spoken excerpt from one of john Joly's research papers on Kratkatoa.

So how did Joly study the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) which took place on August 26, 1883? It was one of the deadliest and most destructive volcanic events in recorded history. The sound made by the Krakatoa volcanic eruption in 1883 was so loud it ruptured eardrums of people 40 miles away and supposedly travelled around the world four times. A Norwegian vessel named the Borjild was in the vicinity of the erupting Krakatoa with the volcanic ash falling on its decks for a considerable period. The ship docked in Dublin in February 1884 where John Joly obtained samples of the volcanic ash and wrote a paper entitled ‘Notes on the Microscopical Character of the volcanic Ash from Krakatoa”.


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Contact Offaly Arts Office 057 9357400