Robyn Long

Artist of the macabre with an insatiable curiosity for the uncanny

John Rainsford

Reporter:

John Rainsford

Robyn Long

Robyn Long

Born, and still resident, in Limerick City, my family home is in rural Kildimo.

My grandfather was a famous Limerick poet, Michael O' Brien, who taught me the importance of artistic integrity and artistic license. My mother, Jean Long, is a published author and writes prose. Vanessa Long, my sister, is a vocalist, singer/ songwriter, and is currently studying for a degree in Music. Vanessa and I were greatly encouraged to pursue our creative talents as careers. I suppose you could say that creativity runs in the family although with very different outputs.

For my education, I spent my primary school years in Scoil Mháthair Dé and attended Laurel Hill Coláiste for my secondary education.

Recently graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD), with a BA in Sculpture and Combined Media, I have always been an artist by nature. Indeed, I was drawn to it from a very early age and fortunately had a very encouraging family base. Sketching and drawing were always a hobby of mine as a child, and it developed over the years, through practice and encouragement (from friends and family) until I finally decided to study it at a collegiate level.

Today, I don't restrict myself to any one medium within the artistic disciplinary spectrum. I am a visual artist and work primarily with sculpture, photography, video and installation. The combined media element of my BA allowed me to explore both two and three dimensional practices and my work currently resides between both. A creative drive, that cannot be satiated, fuels me as an artist. In fact, there is always a question mark behind my work that invites an inquisitive nature. There is, also, a deep seated need to understand, explore and research. All of which is fed back out to the world through the eyes of an artist.

The themes of my work are rooted in the macabre and the sublime notions of life, death, immortality, and the uncanny in-between.

Thus, I find myself focused on bodies, (both human and animal!), and our common mutable state. The uncanny body, medical phenomena, and decay, really fascinate me. Recently, my research has begun to explore the psychology of the mind, regarding superstitions and the history behind them. I have never found it difficult to create an artistic theme. In fact, the recurring themes and concepts in my work stem from things that I find fascinating, or ideas that I am trying to resolve. In terms of the macabre, I find Limerick to be a great source of inspiration for me. From its architecture to macabre myths and stories, Limerick is imbued with a Gothic ambience. Its rich folklore, tales and superstitions, such as The Headless Coachman, and Drunken Thady, sparked an interest in the Gothic as a child. As a result of this, much of my work is now infused with Gothic sensibilities.

In my more recent practice, I have tended to focus much of my research on the notion of the ‘gothic body’.

Also known as the ‘monstrous’ or the ‘grotesque body’, the ‘gothic body’ is in direct opposition to what we commonly recognize as the ‘classical body’. From this, I began to explore the concept of the ‘post-human body’, which may be defined as an entity that exists in a state that is beyond the human. For example, my work Mamma Multus is an interpretation of this entity in terms of a process of modification from the current human state to the post-human. This new form, having transformed from the organic to the synthetic, is an entity onto itself, but its function remains unknown.

There is a strong artistic community in Limerick and we are especially fortunate to have a prestigious art college on our doorstep.

The local galleries, also, give great support to LSAD students and graduates, whether they are emerging artists or looking to progress to a curatorial role. Limerick Printmakers and FabLab open their doors to everyone, not just those with an artistic background. In addition, there is a fantastic theatre scene here and a great sense of entrepreneurship. The opening of Ardmore studios will, hopefully, bring even more creative talent to Limerick. We have great potential, and hopefully Limerick 2020, will boost our economy and tourism. Rolling out new art projects over the next few years, in preparation for this event, will no doubt create some much needed jobs and opportunities.

My experiences will surely differ from some others, but I find it can be very difficult to be an artist in the current climate.

As an artist with a fine art background, it is particularly challenging to make money, and to support a practice. This is not helped by the fact that I enjoy working in mediums, such as sculpture and video, which are not as saleable as other practices, such as print and photography. The price of materials and studio space can, also, be very costly. So, I have recently set-up an online shop to sell my smaller works and prints. The success of this venture will, hopefully, fuel even bigger, more conceptual works.

I will always have that urge to create.

Indeed, I would encourage others to be artists. However, it takes a lot of dedication, self-motivation and a thick skin to do so. As an emerging artist, you can face loads of rejection and criticism, which you must learn to accept and to take constructively. If you are passionate and determined, a finished piece of work is its own reward. That said, I couldn't imagine being in a profession that doesn't permit the freedom, creativity and exploration that comes with being an artist!

For more information about the artist, Robyn Long, please see: robynlongblog.wordpress.com. To visit her online shop access: www.boneyardfox.etsy.com