Not Random Art - Page 47

Hello Anna Marie and welcome to NotRandomArt. The current issue is revolving around the problem of communication and identity, which is the central interest of yours as well. Is there any particular way you would describe your identity as an artist but also as a human being in dynamically changing, unstable times? In particular, does your cultural substratum/identity form your aesthetics?

My practice explores the idea of studying ‘identity’ and more importantly how cultural and national identity is realized today, albeit in a romanticized, reminiscent concept. Everything I believe in; my country, its historical reference, its language, its culture and identity forms who I am and thus informs my work. My practice is informed by place so therefore I feel it is very important for me, as an artist, to be able to ‘escape’ and to simply immerse myself by establishing connection with this ‘place’. This does not necessarily always result into the physical making of work but more often than not can just lead to a collection of a diverse range of source materials. I can spend two weeks in a deserted famine cottage in the West of Ireland with no internet, no TV and no mobile phone signal and just ‘accumulate’. I have recently come to the realization that I am ‘a collector…’ a collector of indigenous form, a collector of narrative and a collector of the piseog. (‘Piseog’ is the Irish word for ‘superstitions’)

Unfortunately, it is very hard to be an artist in today’s climate. You need to make work but you need time to make work. You also need a place to make that work so therefore you need to make money. You need to make money so that you can live and pay bills but then you realize you have no time to make work because you are too busy making money so it is a never ending, extremely frustrating ‘juggling of plates’ scenario. Also, more and more establishments and galleries are charging submission fees so it is becoming increasingly difficult to get your work shown and get it ‘out there’. I graduated in 2009, the height of the recession in this country so I was never under any illusion of ‘grandeur’, so to speak. All I do is ‘keep on, keeping on…’ I absolutely love what I do and will continue exploring, making, painting and collecting and try to make my work as accessible to the viewer as I possibly can.

Would you like to tell us something about your artistic as well as life background? What inspired you to be in this artistic point in your life when you are now?

I was actually a late starter and only went back to University in 2007. I had always wanted to go to Art College and had secured a place when I was 18yrs old in 1984 at the University of Ulster, Belfast. Unfortunately, youth, partying and I suppose lack of confidence in my own work played a bit of a part and I only managed to stay the year and complete my Foundation Studies in Fine and Applied Art (the core year you do before you actually commence your 3 yr degree). I had numerous jobs after that until at the age of 38, I decided that I would take up a part time course in Hand Built Ceramic Forms at the local college. Advice from a brilliant tutor and now friend, Leanne Mullen encouraged me on further to apply for my degree at university, so I studied a HNC, HND in Fine and Applied Art part time for three years and in 2007 I was offered a direct entry, second year degree place at the University of Ulster at Belfast. I handed in my notice from my full time retail manager’s position and accepted the place. I graduated with a B.A First Class Honours in Fine Art (specializing in Painting) in 2009.

I am from Newry, Co. Down, N. Ireland but spend a lot of my time in a very, small village beside the sea called Omeath, Co. Louth where I have my studio. I am very much isolated from any contemporary art scene as such but I like it like that and I choose to live that way. I work in a very solitary way, I suppose most artists do. Belfast and Dublin are about an hour away in opposite directions so I have the option to travel to shows if I want to. I don’t feel the need to be part of any ‘group’ but I have the internet so I can keep my finger on the pulse and dip in and out when I need to!

Could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about your identity as a participant of the visual culture?

I remember when I first saw Jack B Yeat’s work, Queen Maeve Walks Upon this Strand (1950) His expressive use of colour and his way of painting was so unique in its style but more importantly, it was when I actually studied the conceptual significance behind the subject matter, it was to impact upon my practice in a very profound way. Yeats was obsessed with memory and he utilized the variegated brush strokes as a visual language to express his concept of memories and assemblage of ‘half memories’ that he had conjured up and scribbled down in sketch books. ‘Half memory’ for him meant a state that where memory was stimulated and transcended by the imagination- he was freed from the past. The new state allowed memory to develop and fluctuate after it first gripped the mind, to distort the original experience. This discovery was a complete revelation and it changed the way I thought about painting from that day forward. I realized that I didn’t have to paint what was immediate or obvious but that I could be in control of what I painted from the all of the ‘assemblages’ of poetry, photography, imagery, words, that I had in my head.

More recently, I have become very interested in the work by the artist, Richard Tuttle and how his work straddles the barriers between genres. He combines elements of drawing, painting and sculpture but his work manages to defy characterization as one or the other. What intrigues me is that in a culture that sets great store by monumental and glamorous art, his work is so unobtrusive and self-effacing. He too has been described as a collector and you are made aware of this as his work transcends into much more than a multi-disciplinary approach.