The Sea

Artist Name(s) Gary Coyle & Stephen Gardner
Artwork title The Sea
Context/Background Gary Coyle and Stephen Gardner's collaborative film explores a shared passion for the sea. It was commissioned by Wexford County Council under a Per Cent for Art Scheme in 2005 as part of a new round of commissions open to all disciplines inclusive of writers, choreographers, artists, filmmakers, etc.

Coyle and Gardner's collaborative film is an exploration of the sea along the 200 kilometers of Wexford Coastline. The project was curated by Cliodhna Shaffrey.

Their film was screened for a week at Christ Church Old School, Gorey, with a DVD available (limited edition/free).


Gary Coyle has been swimming for seven years, photographing and documenting the sea on virtually a daily basis. This was his first venture into the moving image and his film accompanies a score by composer Stephen Gardner. For years Gardner has worked exclusively with acoustic forces and The Sea is one of his first ventures into electronic media. The opportunity for collaboration has enabled both of these artists to explore new ways of working.

"Trying to capture the sea in moving images (rather than stills) to accompany Stephens's score has changed the way in which I look at it, which I suppose is what dialogue between artists should be about." Gary Coyle                    

"I've already written a work Mutable Sea, which is a colourful and rhythmic portrait of the sea in general. This opportunity to collaborate with Gary helped me to explore a wider range of sea-responsive sounds and musical dialogues." Stephen Gardner

Coyle and Gardner are both keen swimmers and it is the mysterious and darker side of the sea that fascinates them - something which they hope to illuminate in this work.

The Sea, a 17 minute film, was presented as a large single screen projection. It was curated by Cliodhna Shaffrey and funded and supported by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government under the Percent for Art Scheme, in association with the Ballowen Housing Scheme, Gorey. It was coordinated by the Arts Department of Wexford County Council.


A DVD was made available and free to the public, and a talk by the artists was delivered at Gorey School of Art.


Gary Coyle was born in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin in 1965, where he now lives and works having spent nearly a decade living in New York and London. He works in a variety of media, drawing, film, photography, and more recently performance. He has exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad; his work has been included in shows at The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, The Sainsbury Gallery, Norwich and The Tate Liverpool.  He has received many awards including The Henry Moore Fellowship from the RCA & The Henry Moore Foundation in 1995, RHA Drawing Prize in 1999. A Projects Award 2006 & a Visual Arts Bursary 2008 & 2009, both from the Arts Council of Ireland.  At Sea  was was staged at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin. He is currently working on a major exhibition which will be held in the RHA Gallery Dublin in March 2010.

Stephen Gardner was born in Belfast and studied at the University of Ulster and the University of Wales from 1984 to 1989, gaining the degrees of BA in music and MMus in composition. He has been the recipient of a Vaughan Williams Scholarship and a Draper's Fellowship and has received commissions from Concorde, the Sculptors' Society of Ireland, Gerard McChrystal, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Music Network, BBC Radio Ulster, the Belfast Festival at Queens and the Sonorities festival, Belfast. In 1998-99 he was composer-in-residence with Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, the first such position with a local authority in Ireland.

His orchestral works have been performed by the RTE Concert Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra, the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and the Ulster Youth Orchestra. Recent works include It's the hole that kills you not the bullet, which was premiered by Paul Roe in November 2005.

Cliodhna Shaffrey is a curator. Her practice includes exhibitions, writing, longer-term and researched curatorial projects, and programmes that focus on the interaction between artists and situations.

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Wexford County Council
Commissioning process Open Submission
Public Presentation dates October 31, 2006 - November 5, 2006
Artform Music,Visual Arts
Funded By Wexford County Council
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Project commission end date 31/10/2006
Location Wexford Coast and presented in Christ Church National School, Gorey
County Wexfor
Town Gorey
Google Map Insert View this projects location
Content contributor(s) Cliodhna Shaffrey
Relationship to project Curator
Public engagement

Public engagement with local national schools and Gorey School of Art

Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Paul Murnaghan, Editor.



Per cent for art commission | Coláiste Chú Chulainn Co. Louth

17 February 2021

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Nazareth Housing Association provides independent living houses for individuals and couples who are 65 and over and on the Sligo County Council housing list.  Nazareth Village is comprised of 48 houses in a garden setting.  The Village was financed as a public-private partnership between Nazareth Housing Association and Sligo County Council with funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.  

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