Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

‘Atlas and Axis’ inspired sculpture unveiled as inaugural RCSI Art Award commission

15 May 2017

Medicine makes life possible, art makes it worthwhile

A sculpture inspired by the atlas and axis vertebrae of the spine has been unveiled as the inaugural commission for the RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) Art Award. The work was created by Remco de Fouw ARHA, the first winner of the Award which was established last year, in association with The Irish Times and the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) Annual Exhibition, in recognition of the connection between art and healing.


One piece of the 'Atlas and Axis' scuplture

The two-piece work, known as a sculpture diptych, is made from Spanish alabaster and glass and is on display in the York Street Concourse area of RCSI, 123 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2. The sculpture was unveiled by Professor John Hyland, President, RCSI in the presence of Mick O'Dea, President, RHA.

Professor Cathal Kelly, Chief Executive/ Registrar, RCSI welcomes Remco de Fouw ARHA to the College for the unveiling event  

Professor Cathal Kelly, Chief Executive/ Registrar, RCSI said: ‘The RCSI Art Award is a celebration of the long-standing association between art, medicine and wellbeing and the common heritage of RCSI and the RHA. We are delighted to unveil the inaugural commission by Remco de Fouw ARHA and I would like to congratulate him on this inspirational and inventive sculpture. I am sure that it will inspire a sense of curiosity and discovery in our future healthcare leaders and for all our visitors to the RCSI campus who observe it.'


Pictured at the unveiling of inaugural commission for the RCSI Art Award is (l-r) Mick O'Dea, President, RHA; Remco de Fouw ARHA; and Professor John Hyland, President, RCSI   

Speaking about the inspiration for the work, Remco de Fouw ARHA commented: ‘I called these two pieces Atlas and Axis, after the first two vertebra of the spine on which the globe of the head sits. This is near the area where matter and signal or impulse somehow magically becomes spirit or consciousness. It is one of the universe's greatest mysteries, and one we are unlikely to ever have a definitive explanation for.'

Members of the inaugural RCSI Art Award Selection Committee who were  in attendence at the unveiling included Professor Clive Lee, Professor of Anatomy, RCSI & RHA; Dr Abdul Bulbulia, Alumnus, RCSI; and immediate Past-President of RCSI, Mr Declan J. Magee

Remco received the inaugural RCSI Art Award prize last year, which included the newly unveiled commission, for his sculpture ‘Random Access Memory V' that was displayed at the 186th RHA Annual Exhibition: ‘With that work I was attempting to explore the relationship between the eternal and the fleeting or transitory; between the mute and the articulate or visible and invisible; between spirit and matter.'

Remco de Fouw ARHA discussed the sculpture with Dr Abdul Bulbulia, Alumnus, RCSI

The shortlisted artworks for the 2017 RCSI Art Award, selected by the RCSI Art Award Committee, will be announced prior to the opening of the 187th RHA Annual Exhibition on Varnishing Day, Sunday 21st May, and the winner will be announced in mid-July before the 2017 exhibition closes. 

All works of art selected for the RHA Annual Exhibition in any medium will be considered for the RCSI Art Award. The recipient will be awarded €5,000 and the RCSI silver medal. The successful artist will also receive a commission to the value of €10,000 for a new work for the RCSI collection.

Both RCSI (1784) and the RHA (1823) have Georgian origins and are 32-county bodies with educational roles. RCSI was occupied, while the RHA was destroyed in the Easter Rising of 1916 and the RCSI Art Award was established in 2016 to coincide with the centenary of these historic events.

The RCSI Art Award Committee includes Professor John Hyland, President, RCSI (Chair); Mick O'Dea, President, RHA; Laurence Mackin, Arts Editor, The Irish Times; Patrick T. Murphy, Director, RHA; Professor Clive Lee, Professor of Anatomy, RCSI & RHA; Dr Abdul Bulbulia, Alumnus, RCSI; and Louise Loughran, Director of Communications, RCSI.

RCSI is ranked in the top 250 institutions worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2016-2017). It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide.