Arts Interview: Seamus McCormack

John Rainsford


John Rainsford

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Born in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, from an early age I was interested in drawing, making small sculptures, writing and performing dramas.

Born in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, from an early age I was interested in drawing, making small sculptures, writing and performing dramas.

Following the completion of my Primary Degree in Fine Art at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), I moved to Limerick to study Art Education at the Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD). After graduating in 2007 I moved back to Dublin to work in the Education Department of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA).

Always having an inquisitive nature my parents encouraged me since I was a child and still take a keen interest in what I do.

They are both very creative in their own activities, particularly my father who was involved in amateur dramatics and what I would term creative gardening! My brother is a talented graphic designer so involvement with the arts runs in the family. Today, I define myself as a multi-disciplinary artist, working in sculpture, drawing, installation, performance, and writing. Across all of these mediums I borrow elements, images, concepts and motifs from the theatre and cinema space, and on a whole the work deals with social performance and identity construction.

The term ‘artist’ is hard to define.

Joseph Beuys, for example, does not see creativity as a special realm for artists only; rather everyone can apply creative thinking to their own area of specialization. This became apparent to me, also, while at LSAD. Here, we explored concepts and ideas introducing art to young people through the secondary school curriculum. The art curriculum, particularly at Junior Certificate level, is very progressive; however there is still a lot to do in the Leaving Certificate course. My mentor in Limerick, the late, great, Kieran Meagher, was an important figurehead for change over the years and in future I hope the subject will not be so exam focused. The way art is taught and mediated in schools is also being borrowed and adapted into other subjects. I find this to be particularly interesting and exciting.

In 2002, after graduating from DIT, I received the Best Fine Art Student Award.

I was, also, awarded the Gold Medal for Academic Excellence from the Faculty of Applied Arts, DIT, and was the first person from Fine Art to ever do this. That same year, I, also, received the Westmeath Co. Council Emerging Artist Award, leading to a commissioned artwork for their collection. In 2010, I was one of the award winners at the Claremorris Open Exhibition, curated by Lisa Le Feuvre. Thus far, I have exhibited my work in three solo exhibitions, the most recent at The LAB Gallery, Dublin.

The inspiration for my work comes from the site or space in which it will eventually be exhibited.

However, I am, particularly, interested in how context and situation may give it a different interpretation. My current interests lie in transitions, transformations, masquerade, artifice and play. For example, the use of professional actors has always been an important aspect of my work and I often reference various acting methodologies and teachings. My aim is to create liminal spaces that disorientate or re-orientate the viewers’ perception of what is real or what is artifice. In this, I am attempting to open up areas of thought through the physical experience of interacting with the work. I want the viewer to be aware of their location in space, and how they might relate to the work while interpreting it. My work, also, questions the relationship between actor and spectator, in the process alluding to the notion of the Spect-Actor.

I am involved in an upcoming exhibition for Occupy Space.

This is a site-specific project devised by myself, Janine Davidson, Olivia Hassett, Elaine Leader, Tanya O’Keeffe and Francis Wasser.

We were all students of sculpture at The National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in Dublin, where I recently completed an MA, and we now exhibit together frequently. The current exhibition will explore our different practices rather than working thematically. It should be possible for the visitor to make connections between our works. The site for the exhibition has a very particular context, with a very particular history, being the basement of The Frank McCourt Museum, at Leamy House, and the actual school that McCourt attended. We did a site visit recently and I found myself really inspired by the museum and the passion and creativity of its founder Una Heaton. Our exhibition will include installation, video, performance, drawing, and sculpture. The room, we are exhibiting in, is a former classroom and its history may lead to a particular reading of the work. So, I am very interested in the overlap, between the two. As I have always been interested in referencing literature, the chance to exhibit in the McCourt Museum is, a particularly, exciting one for me!

Séamus McCormack and his fellow artists will exhibit at The Frank McCourt Museum, Leamy House, Hartstonge Street, Limerick, from June 5 - 28. For more information please see: For events at Occupy Space access: