The Arts Interview: Kieran Carey

John Rainsford


John Rainsford

The Arts Interview: Kieran Carey
Born in Chiswick, London, my father ran a wine merchant’s store near the park.

Born in Chiswick, London, my father ran a wine merchant’s store near the park.

I don’t remember much but I have fond memories of going to that park a lot with my three wheeler blue bike. My family moved back to Limerick where my mother was originally from. She was a dress maker by profession and worked in McBurney’s. Later, I attended primary school in CBS Sexton St and went on to St Clements for my secondary schooling. Finally, I went to third level in Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD), taking fine art, before receiving my Master’s Degree from the University of Ulster, in Belfast.

Although, I cannot answer for everyone, what made me become an artist was, essentially, the variety in the job.

Being an artist can vary from a meeting in London one day, to a teaching slot in an art college the next. All the while you are juggling exhibition proposals and selecting exhibitions. The main thing is the creative flow and the need to create work which the viewer will appreciate. Being an artist is solitary at times but it is the only way that you can create paintings. This, in turn, demands hours of looking before you can actually apply any paint to the canvas. For inspiration, I have visited America, Australia, the UK, Europe and India, while Dubai intrigues me.

Certainly, I have had opportunities to do other things with my life; however, I always come back to art.

It is very much up and down, through good times and bad, like acting, you are always waiting for a break, through feast and famine. People should know this isn’t an easy job but it is rewarding when you nail an exhibition and are happy with all the work that you put into it. There is tremendous satisfaction in that. For example, my next exhibition is entitled ‘The Swan’ and is composed of a series of paintings and drawings inspired by those which reside in the docks area of Limerick City. Indeed, it is being part-funded by Limerick City and County Council. A further exhibition may have the ‘Circus as a theme and will be opening in the fall. The beauty of swans and the way that they float was my starting point. They are vessels of love really.

It is very difficult being an artist in the current climate, as art is the last thing to come back from a recession.

However, that said, I have seen a bit of a rise in business, recently, albeit, slow and tentative. Generally speaking, however, there is a certain reluctance to part with ‘Queen Maeve’ but it is happening. Perhaps it is time, therefore, to focus on creativity rather than sales, which can be a productive approach as well. By nature I am an optimist, as well, so the glass is always half- full for me.

My art can vary in its themes from the circus, rivers, landscapes, figures, and sexuality.

Art is the expression of anything to do with life, humanity, and the human soul, with its constant yearnings, needs, and calamities, along with its loves and joys. A swan, one day is glorious to me and the next day it might be a beggar man. What is his story, his past, his future? I paint hope as well as reality. Humour is always apparent in my work, as I see it as one way of bringing people into an artwork, and, then, offering the viewer the possibility of seeing the madness of life with all its absurdities. All in all, I like to challenge our views of art and what it is used for. Therefore, my style can vary depending on what I am trying to convey.

The recent City of Culture extended people’s views of Limerick.

It allowed us to be seen as brilliant and amazing and have the infrastructure, and talent to be a good hub for the arts. LSAD has, also, advanced the idea of Limerick being a centre of artistic excellence, with studios popping up here and there, making Limerick much more of a creative and fun place to live and work. Indeed, I believe that this concept should be brought into all aspects of our lives as it is good for our thinking processes. Art spaces, for example, are few and far between, so there is often no where to show work. However, where they are exhibiting artistic work, they tend to support a mixture of unprofessional people who claim to be artists, which would lead me to focus more on New York and London for now.

We don’t encourage people enough to be artists these days and I can see why.

Some people have an idea that artists are all a bit weird and wonderful and none of us are down to earth and normal. However, we are just trying to make a living like everyone else, rearing families and trying to do a bit of business. Since I won a Limerick City of Culture Artist Award last year, for example, I have found my patrons and customers have been requesting a broader range of products which is why I am extending my art product range. Being an artist is hard at times, but is very rewarding; however, I find it difficult, not be respected, like any other profession. Ultimately, artists try to balance the day to day mundaneness of life with some exuberance!

Kieran Carey’s exhibition ‘The Swan’ will be opening on May 7 at 7.30pm at Friars’ Gate Theatre in Kilmallock and run until May 29. For further information please call: 063-98727 or visit the website: Examples of Kieran Carey’s work can be seen on his website: