Although born in Co Limerick, in fact, I grew up in Kerry.
However, I have lived in Limerick for the past five years. Four years of these were spent in college. Living in Limerick during the week I worked at home in Kerry over the weekends. Since graduating I have lived here on a full time basis and I love every minute of it. Originally, I went to Knockanure Primary School, Tarbert Comprehensive Secondary School, and Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD), where I graduated with an Honours Degree in Printmaking and Contemporary Practice.
Today, I work primarily with traditional printmaking methods.
In fact, I work mostly with woodblock and monoprint techniques, but I enjoy every form of printmaking. What you are trying to portray in the artistic piece determines what method is best suited to obtain the greatest affect.
What appeals to me most about being an artist is the freedom of having endless possibilities in your work.
I get great satisfaction out of creating something physical, something that was once trapped somewhere in the mind, even though you might not have even realised it was there. Currently, I am a member of Limerick Printmakers. Indeed, my colleague, Aine Finnegan, and myself were awarded the Limerick Printmakers Annual Bursary, having achieved excellence in printmaking from our time at LSAD. Limerick Printmakers is an integral organisation for artists in Limerick. It is a platform for them to produce work and to collaborate with other art organisations.
A pessimistic mind yields pessimistic outcomes.
Having left college, I now realise the difficulties faced by artists trying to fund their careers. It becomes a pattern for us, to fall into minimum wage jobs, working full-time hours in order to ‘survive’. The harsh reality is that the degree we worked so hard for becomes almost worthless and the art ‘thing’ takes a back seat role. It’s very disheartening for artists whose sole ambition is to be productive in the studio. Instead, they often find themselves working in the same type of jobs that they were working in as teenagers. Artists are creative people, so we have the ability to change our current situation and make creative opportunities for ourselves. Indeed, these difficult times in our lives can become the foundation stone for the most thought-provoking work.
Family and friends tend to influence your life decisions.
So, it is important to have a good network of people around you. Good people channel good energy. If you have a good support structure, you won’t be afraid to go after your dreams. Failure won’t deter you if you have got family to support you in your setbacks and to congratulate you on your successes. For example, my grandmother would have been very good at crafting, knitting and baking cakes. Artist Fiona Quill also provided massive support for me in my final year at college. She definitely gave me the courage to pursue my dreams and is living proof that you can make a successful career as an artist in Ireland. After all, what is the point of getting a job when you get no personal satisfaction from it? Instead, why not follow your dreams. That is what we tell children. Why does that change when we become adults?
Currently curating an exhibition entitled: ‘You Should-ah Been There!’ it will be held in ‘The Coach House’ on Little Barrington St this month.
For this, I have invited 12 other artists to showcase their work on the night. I chose artists whose work visually appealed to me, the variety in their work will also work very well in this Georgian style rustic space. The artists who will feature in the Exhibition include: Des McMahon, Coilin Murray, Grawyna Murphy, Stephen Murphy, Aoife Cooley, Peter Bradley, Deirdre Caulifield, Roisin O’ Connell, James Canty, Aine Finnegan, Ciaran O’ Connor, Niamh Ryan and myself. The exhibition will be officially opened on the night by artist Fiona Quill.
Myself and Aine Finnegan’s exhibition for the Limerick Printmakers’ Annual Bursary will be held in The Belltable next September.
I am really excited to be exhibiting with Aine, as she is a very skilful printmaker and I admire her work greatly. Her technique with printmaking, in my opinion, is advanced beyond her years. We work well in the workshop as a team and it’s great to be able to bounce ideas off one other. Aine’s work, to date, has been heavily influenced by her fascination with the universal unknown; being inspired by the cosmos and black holes. My own practice engages with the calming and conflicting struggle between emotional strength and weakness as seen through the prism of alternative landscapes.
I love travelling, exploring new cultures and places.
For example, this year I have been to Berlin and Amsterdam, which have inspired a new body of work. It’s important to explore new places in order to grow your creative development. I lived in Edinburgh briefly for five months a couple of years ago and I fell in love with its beautiful scenery. In many ways it felt very much like home. I have every intention of returning there and hopefully completing a residency with Edinburgh Printmakers in the near future. For now, however, I am happy enough to spend another year in Limerick as I feel that it has many more opportunities to offer. I certainly don’t think that it is time to leave just yet!
‘You Should-ah Been There’, an exhibition curated by Kate McElligott, will open in The Coach House on Little Barrington St on Thursday, July 14 at 6pm. A joint exhibition with Aine Finnegan will take place at The Belltable, 69 O’ Connell St on September 20. For more information about the artist Kate McElligott please see: www.limerickprintmakers.com/ Artists.html