Death of the Ferryman is one of the statues on exhibit at Victoria’s Way Indian Sculpture Garden, Co Wicklow. This statue is one of the “forest sculptures”, each of which represent various stages of life according to Buddhist religious philosophy. For scale, this statue is about twice life size, and sits in a pool of algae covered water.
Covering twenty-two acres, the park includes a series of dancing figures of Ganesh, Shiva, and other Hindu deities. It also includes more bizarre sculptures of a skeletal Buddha-like figure, an enormous disembodied finger, and a sculpture called “The Split Man” which shows a figure ripping itself in two, representing “the mental state of the dysfunctional human.” Intended to represent the spiritual progression to enlightenment, this collection of 14 statues took 20 years to complete.
The park is owned and maintained by Victor Langheld, who was born in 1940 in Berlin and has lived with a number of different religious orders in Thailand, Japan, and Sri Lanka. A large family inheritance allowed Langheld to spend most of his adult life traveling to spiritual sites in Asia, before going to Ireland and sponsoring the construction of the sculpture park.
Langheld designed most of the sculptures, and continues to curate the park and welcome visitors.
A plaque by the entrance says the park is dedicated to cryptographer Alan Turing, widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.
A sign beside the ferryman statue describes the sculptor’s intent:
The ferryman’s craft lies dead in the water. Unable to move, he can no longer reach the ‘other’ shore and touch it. Unable to touch he cannot become real, identified and fully energised (hence joyful). Unmoving, he sinks and dies.
The sculpture of the Ferryman’s End is a metaphor for the individual who is losing touch with the real world, personal or general.