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The Witness Tree

Artist Name(s) Daphne Wright
Artwork title The Witness Tree
Context/Background Irish artist Daphne Wright was awarded the commission for Castlebar Courthouse, arising from an open two-stage public art competition run by Mayo County Council. The art work is entitled The Witness Tree, and was made of cast, translucent white marble resin. The artist chose one of the oldest trees on the mall and using a process of "living casting" created a three-dimensional picture of the tree. In this way, the artist captured the elegant form of the tree, including surface detail, without in any way harming the living tree. Wright and her team, Lisa Scantlerbury and Mark Plenderleith, completed the work in Bristol and it was sited and launched in Castlebar in 2005. To the artist The Witness Tree is a marker of time. The tree has many common references, knowledge, wisdom, judgement and punishment. The newly-refurbished courthouse is a very elegant space which required a sensitive response. 


The Witness Tree is a cast translucent white marble artwork situated in the foyer of Castlebar Courthouse. The artist used a process of 'living casting' to create a three-dimensional picture of the tree.

The height of the piece is approximately 6m, with a diameter of approximately 700mm. This work stretches over two levels of the building towards the atrium. Daphne Wright found her inspiration through looking at old photographs. She states:

"The trees on the Mall are recurring background stalwarts through the different generations and folklore of the town. Many references are made to the trees in the archiving and documentation of the court house. Family events and community rituals have taken place under these trees. Births, weddings, deaths and social events. Like the courthouse this symbolises the very social textures that are indeed the essence of the community. The courthouse exists for the community. I see the foyer area because of the architectural ambience coupled with The Witness Tree, becoming a contemplative and communal sitting area."


Daphne Wright is a very experienced and well-respected artist, whose work involves installations appropriate to particular spaces. Wright's work was the subject of a solo exhibition at Limerick City Art Gallery in 2006. Wright has been involved in several important international group exhibitions, notably 0044 touring PS1, New York; Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo; Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, 1999/2000 and From a Distance: Approaching Landscape at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. She has had major solo exhibitions including; Where Do Broken Hearts Go? at the Douglas Hyde Galley, Dublin in 2000; These Talking Walls at the New Art Centre Sculpture Park and Gallery, Roche Court, Wiltshire; Nonsense and Death at the Sligo Art Gallery, Sligo, Ireland; and Sires at Frith Street Gallery, London in 2003.

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Mayo County Council
Commissioning process Open Submission
Project commission dates May 18, 2004 - October 30, 2004
Public Presentation dates February 10, 2005 - January 1, 1970
Artform Visual Arts
Funded By Other
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Project commission start date 18/05/2004
Project commission end date 30/10/2004
Location Castlebar Courthouse
County Mayo
Town Castlebar
Street Address The Mall, Castlebar
Google Map Insert View this projects location
Content contributor(s) Gaynor Seville
Relationship to project Public Art Co-ordinator