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The Sweat Oratory

Kinsale is based in a bay on the south coast of Ireland and we saw the commission as a fantastic opportunity of doing an installation that had a direct relationship with the sea. The Sweat Oratory was sited on the top of a slowly sloping rocks giving direct access to the sea. We felt it was a shame that residents didn’t use the sea more and during the research found some interesting early spa traditions that could help ignite people to use the sea.

The project also comments on the short term mentality of modern life as the installation was only in place for 10 days. The Gallarus Oratory which we based the installations design on was built in 800AD using just stones and its still on its original site. It was an early Christian church and we are intrigued by how religious experience could exist in the modern day so without the actual religion and just the communal and/or inner experience. We combined this idea with the sweat lodges which are small burrows into the side of hills in remote areas of Ireland where people burnt peat and sweated their guts out. The Sweat Oratory was a sauna using peat to heat rocks. The public would fetch sea water and use this to create the necessary steam getting temperatures of 90+ celsius. After people used the sauna they naturally went into the sea to cool down.