A racehorse with a bellyful of whiskey – that’s the unusual installation created by a west Kerry artist in an effort to raise funds for injured jockeys.
Liam O’Neill is among 20 renowned artists who have been commissioned to produce works of art that will then be auctioned on behalf of the Irish Injured Jockeys.
The 20 artists have been presented with a life-size sculpture of a racehorse, which is made of resin. It’s left to each individual artist to put his or her own creative mark on the white sculpture.
Liam O’Neill opted to paint his mare using delicate blacks, browns and ochre but his work of art has a twist.
Concealed in the horse's belly is a secret whiskey bar. The concealed cabinet is hidden beneath the saddle-cloth.
"I wanted to do something different with the horse, apart from painting her, so I called my good friend Walter Castellazzo, a master-craftsman - and together we created this unusual installation. You could say this mare has fire in her belly."
Liam’s creation will be auctioned along with the 19 other horses at the Irish Derby in the Curragh in June.
Proceeds from the auction will be donated to Irish Injured Jockeys.
"We all see the jockeys celebrating after fantastic victories but we must remember the jockeys who fell. These are men and women of tremendous courage who have been terribly unlucky. Some are in wheelchairs, more are completely paralysed. It’s important not to forget them. They are the real heroes, fighting their own battles.
O’Neill spent over 100 hours creating the piece of art. He says he attempted to capture the colours and personality of the horses he remembers from his youth on the Dingle Peninsula: the mighty working horses he saw growing up in Cathair Scoilbín and the elegant racehorses he first witnessed at the Béal Bán and Dingle Races.
"Horses were very much part of my youth growing up here and I often feature them in my work. I’m delighted this installation has deep west Kerry connections. The tack was handmade by local saddler Elaine Waters, the glasses are handmade by Dingle Crystal and the Dingle whiskey is distilled back the road here. It’s a great local effort for a very worthy cause"
Irish Injured Jockeys was set up in 2014 to provide long-term care and guidance, not only when jockeys have suffered serious injury through riding, but when they will need help in their secondary careers and in their lives when they have finished riding.
Proceeds from the art-horse auction will also be donated to Sensational Kids, a Kildare-based charity that provides children with affordable access to speech and language therapy and occupational therapy.