Simon Corcoran: Shinnor's Scholar
BORN in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, I attended Gaelscoil Chluain Meala primary school and then CBS secondary school.
Here, I first developed my interest in studying art under the amazing guidance of art teacher Ms. Kennedy. She, also, ran portfolio courses after school and helped countless students to get into Art College. Indeed, I was one of them, coming to Limerick City in 2009, to attend Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD). Today, I am a member of Wickham St., Studios which is a really great studio space in the heart of Limerick City run by Seán Guinan.
In October 2015, I was honoured to be appointed Shinnor’s Scholar at Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA).
It is a two-year Master’s in Curatorial Studies position so I still have a long road ahead and plenty to learn. I never saw myself as someone who was good enough to be in such an exalted role and truly never expected it. It is an amazing honour to have been chosen, following as I am in some fairly big footsteps, and just hoping that I can keep-up. The whole process has been long and exceptionally busy but I can honestly say that I loved every minute of it. Each challenge and rejection has been a chance to learn and build on what I know. So, my advice to anyone reading this is just to go for it, apply, get rejected and then apply again, because you are almost certainly better that you think you are. Indeed, don’t be afraid to question yourself and to accept your imperfections. They can sometimes be your greatest strength.
My goal is to combine those twin passions of artist and curator.
To this end, immediately after graduating from LSAD, I took-up a position as gallery assistant in Ormston House, a cultural resource centre in Limerick City. Run by a great team of LSAD graduates it has prospered under the wily stewardship of Mary Conlon. Subsequently, I was very honoured to receive The Hunt Museum’s Curatorial, Education, and Public Programmes Internship. Here, I was exposed to the background processes of an art museum and to the wider reach that a museum has into its community. Under the guidance of Dr. Dominique Bouchard (outgoing Curator of Education and Outreach with The Hunt Museum) I was allowed to create my own events and to take the initiative in producing something of my own, supported by her welcome advice and guidance.
Having completed the internship I decided that it was time to foster one of the many exhibition ideas which I had constantly buzzing around inside my head.
Out of this process I developed the idea for ‘Plinth’. This was a graduate award exhibition which exhibited selected artists from LSAD’s graduate exhibition ‘ON’ (2015) and was funded under the Arts Act. The exhibition was intended to challenge participating artists to re-imagine their art practice in a new and different way. It took as its common starting point the base element of the exhibition itself, namely, The plinth. The concept came about simply, from a wish that I had, when I first graduated. This was for an exhibition that would contribute to keeping our artists in the city after graduation, by supporting them, and by making the process of creating their first real exhibition, outside of college, as easy as possible.
Limerick has to be commended for its engagement with arts and culture especially in recent years.
The support that I have witnessed for Limerick 2020 stems directly from the community and has been grafted onto a renewed passion for the arts through City of Culture (2014). Indeed, the current bid for European City of Culture (2020) has been great to see, pulling as it does, support from all areas of the community, for the arts and for culture in general. It is important that we sustain the enthusiasm sparked by these two projects and imperative that we translate them into sustainable projects and engagements moving forward. We can always be better and support our local community groups even when this flame of passion subsides.
Currently, I have a few curatorial project ideas under development.
At the forefront is a solo exhibition of my work to take place in the Higher Bridges Gallery, in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, on 3 June, 2016. This year will, also, hopefully see a return of the ‘Plinth Graduate Award Exhibition’. Indeed, we hope to add a few extra elements making it even more beneficial to the talented graduates selected. Despite, having an incredible amount of work and responsibilities I love being the new Shinnor’s Scholar. It may be a slow process, to learn all about how a new organisation works and how things are done. As my Master’s research progresses that will surely become the most exciting bit with my personal research project taking precedence towards the end.
My greatest source of inspiration is, also, one of my greatest supporters, namely Mary Conlon, whose name has become synonymous with excellence at Ormston House.
As a student I just remember hearing her speak and just thinking to myself how impressive she was. Her passion for art really shines in everything that she does. As a result, her example is something that I choose to aspire to. Today, Mary runs her own Cultural Resource Centre, called Ormston House, and is a truly inspirational leader. Indeed, as a former Shinnor’s Scholar herself, Mary knows better than most, that if you are a Curator (or artist) you must enjoy the challenge of fighting for new opportunities and working hard!
For more information about the artist/curator Simon Fennessy Corcoran please see: simonfennessycorcoran.weebly. com. For Wickham St. Studio’s access: Wickham Street Studios.BlogSpot.com and for Ormston House: www.ormstonhouse.com