BORN in Kenmare, Co Kerry, when I finished my Leaving Certificate I moved to Cork in order to study Architecture at University College Cork.
However, in hindsight, it wasn’t the right choice for me. I was really interested in Art and Design but thought that Architecture was the sensible thing to do. When I was in my second year, however, I dropped out due to illness and back in Kerry with my family; I used art and cooking to help me to recover. My mother was a teacher so art was always a huge part of how she taught. One of my brothers studied Architecture, and my other brother is a poet, so I guess you could say that creativity runs in our family.
It was around this time that I began helping my sister set-up a new studio called ‘Yoga and Mindfulness Kenmare’.
This project involved converting some old farm buildings on our father’s land, and later starting my own business, called the ‘NomNom Café and Gallery’. I ran this for seven summers with my friend Aoife. This evolved into the arts and well-being festival, NomShtock, in 2014. During this time, I, also, studied art, craft and design at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa College of further Education, in Cork. Finally, in 2011, I joined Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD). There is a real sense of Community here and Limerick people are really friendly so I felt at home straight away.
Today, I specialise in hybrid Printmaking mixing different traditional printmaking techniques, such as Etching, Photopolymer, Collography, Screenprint and Monoprint.
I, also, like to make sculptural pieces but I’m a printmaker at heart. Social constructions, both physical and emotional, are always visible in my pieces. Indeed, mental health, especially how it is perceived of, in Ireland, would be a very strong theme throughout the years. Having battled with depression since I was 19, my journey with this illness continues to inspire my work. Community and collaboration are, also, invariably on my mind. I am always thinking-up new ways of reaching out and involving people, in the wider community, which is why I created the publication, Rumpus.
Printmaking comes from a tradition of disseminating ideas.
With Rumpus I wanted to create an open and inclusive space that would bring together all those amazing people I was coming into contact with through my work. It is a platform where everyone’s ideas are valued. Currently, I am, also, involved with planning The Limerick Spring Festival (2016), by creating a space that brings together arts, politics and the community. Indeed, an ethos of embracing the possibilities of social change through community engagement permeates Rumpus. The theme of the fourth issue, as suggested by readers, is ‘Sanctuary and Refuge' with the design company ‘Hurrah Hurrah’, based in Sample Studios, Cork, designing and printing the publication.
Artists have a desire to express emotions, feelings or ideas, through their work in whatever capacity they choose.
But the best thing about being an artist is that there is no set of rules. Anyone can be an artist if they want to create and no one can tell them otherwise. If you are lucky enough to find something that you are passionate about and are willing to work hard you will make it. Yes, it might be a winding road, and you might have to do a lot of different things along the way to make it work, but it is always worth it. There are no steadfast rules, you can find art in everything, and especially if you are doing something that you believe in.
Things can be difficult for artists at the moment, especially financially.
It is a shame, that it seems the only option, for upcoming artists, is to work to supplement their practice. This can be seen as a kind of compromise, but unfortunately it is the new reality for me, and a lot of my friends who graduated, in 2015. However, I am lucky in that I have Sample Studios and Cork and Limerick Printmakers to work with, as well as my PR role with Cork Arts Theatre. Indeed, things seem to be changing in a very positive way with the increasing involvement of local communities in the arts and lots of other groups as well. It’s all about getting different people, skills, ideas and communities, to work together.
Limerick 2020 will be good for the city in terms of raising its profile, both on a national and an international stage.
At the moment Limerick is an especially exciting place to be an artist. There are projects and exhibitions running constantly, thanks to the presence of some amazing talent, collaborations between different artists, organizations, communities and a multitude of arts festivals. All of these stem from the edgy and talented atmosphere that is unique to our city. Regardless of whether we win the bid for Limerick 2020 we need to continue to work together, in order to make Limerick the best city it can be.
My current exhibition is entitled ‘Dismantle’.
It was a lot of fun to make with the main focus being on working in a very instinctual way, while challenge any fears involved. The essence of this exhibition lies in ‘dismantling’ the structures (physical or mental), that no longer function, and rebuilding them from the bottom-up. With this in mind I am organizing a Spoken Word and Printmaking event at Sample Studios, in Cork on 29 January. The Limerick Spring Festival (2016) is, also, looming large under the auspices of a very inspiring Limerick Spring team!
For more information about Kate O’Shea please see: https://www.facebook.com/Kateosheavisualartist/ email@example.com and @RumpusX. Kate’s current exhibition runs at Alchemy, on Barrack Street, Cork, until March 2016.