How did you become an artist?
Art has always been an integral part of my life, my mother is a painter and I get my creative gene from her, so I grew up surrounded by it to be honest. Because of this there was never any specific moment of illumination that stood out, it has always been an incredibly important facet of my life which left me wanting to pursue nothing else from the get go. I studied painting in the Limerick School of Art and Design, but it was Limerick as a whole which really gave me a grasp of the sensibility of what being an artist is like in terms of studio practice. After graduating I took up residency in a few local studios and at the time there it was really a hub of creative energy which I take with me to this day.
London being one of the centres of the art world always intrigued me, so I had to make the leap over the water to further my artistic development. It was just an opportunity to explore the cultural, social hub I wanted to grasp and contribute to creatively. It took me a while to settle in for numerous reasons as I viewed it more as an unforgiving Tir Na Nog! But once I found my way into that loose network of overlapping subcultures held together by their communal belief in art, I was hooked and knew this is where I want to make things.
What's important to know about your work?
I try to document the socio-political issues of today, so what’s on the news, what the mood on the streets is like, which are obviously quite grand issues. But I truly believe that the best art in any time reflects the current cultural climate it sits in. Like holding a mirror up to society to an extent. Currently, what has my attention is housing. I’m fascinated with the extraordinary stranglehold that the property interest has on society, an almost feudal state of affairs. Recurring imagery you’ll see in my work is decay and wreckage and that’s because I think land hoarding and dereliction is just vandalism for the land owning sector yet we seem inundated with it. So I just feel compelled to depict it how I see fit.
There's tonnes of theoretical aspects behind each piece that I could speak about for ages but I actually get more satisfaction when the viewer isn't presented with any sort of narrative context behind the works. I feel that there is a more organic reaction when the person viewing my artwork doesn't go straight for what it’s about but looks to see if they can decipher the work for themselves. From this I feel a greater connection is created if they are requires to find the meaning for themselves. That's just me though!
What challenges do you face as an artist?
Well I guess to a degree the art world is a place with relative less obvious structure then a lot of other industries. Not saying there isn’t one but it certainly can be harder to discover and define your place in it at times. This could be because there isn’t as much emphasis on professional practice education so it’s very easy to walk out try and enter the art world, not know where to start, so this is definitely a big one I think.
Another challenge which I hear quite a bit from talking to artists is the element of social dissonance that social media platforms have created in the art community now. This urge to upload art all the time and stay busy (or seem to stay busy) when you’re inundated with artists who are potentially working full time on their practice so can constantly update their online social portfolios. So a lot of artists feel the pressure and are putting up things they may not feel comfortable putting up but feel like they have to. From speaking to artists a lot over the last few years this one always comes up in conversation.
What does art mean to you?
I don’t mean to sound cheesy but sometimes you have to sound cheesy to be truly honest. Art is life for me personally. As I mentioned above I’ve no life experience without it so it’s a fundamental part of my being, whether it's creating, looking or listening I need it as it’s an obsession. I think art is uniquely positioned to inspire, entice and engage people together. No matter where you look, you’ll find it. It’s the part of us that makes us human – The very act of self-expression, the very act of creating enriches our lives for the better. It’s the communication of intimate creations that cannot be faithfully portrayed by words alone. As the late great John Baldisseri said ‘Art is a creation of the eye and can be only hinted at with words.’