Gemma Lalor

Artist of the absurd who has an upcoming exhibition at Friars' Gate Theatre

John Rainsford

Reporter:

John Rainsford

Gemma Lalor

Born and educated in Portlaoise, I did a two year Art course in Abbeyleix, followed by an Arts and Business FETAC Level Six Course.

However, I subsequently decided that this path did not suit my style of artistic work and I declined to go further, despite getting accepted into both Cork and Galway Art Institutes. Instead, I decided to pave my own path as an Artist. As a small child, when I was asked what I wanted to be when I got older, my answer would invariably be ‘an Artist’. I was always drawing, painting or making something. I even won a small competition on Cartoon Network for making a mask. My father is a great craftsman with great skill, and my mother was always very big into her make-up and clothes. My brothers are also good Artists, along with some of my relations too, so I guess it runs in the family.

All of my current artistic work is drawn purely from my imagination, but it is very hard to pigeon hole, it being original and unique to my persona.

Invariably, I like to mix it up and to keep things interesting for myself. I paint, draw, sculpt and even make resin jewelry. My passion is to exaggerate everyday life and to show the viewer something that they have never seen before. For instance, in one of my pictures I depict a snail driving a classic car, and in another, Owls that have turned into Aliens, (the latter are living on a tree that is roaming a planet!). I love to bring new images into existence and to show the viewer a different playful perspective on life. Nevertheless, I love to have my exhibitions balanced, so I will put in a certain amount of each type of picture, until it looks just right. I am also research-based and will continuously use the internet and public libraries to find new exhibition spaces.

Everything inspires me, so most of the time I just like to sit down, and let whatever wants to come out of my heart, just come out unopposed.

That said, I don't like to over-plan my artistic pieces as I like them to run free. Sometimes an idea can come into my head but it always turns out completely different on canvas. I just let it happen. Other times, I could have a dream about a piece, or just before I fall asleep, something will pop into my head, and I will incorporate it into a new picture. I love unusual things, for example, outer space and the possibilities of what could be out there. Although, my Art is often humorous, what might seem benign to the human eye at first glance, can actually be quite deep when you look further.

My ‘day job’ with An Post gives me the freedom to create from my passion and not with the sole purpose of making money.

Artists often struggle to survive on the sales from their work alone. Art exhibitions, for me, reside in the pure love of what I do. People can enjoy it without any pressure to be a buyer. Of course, if you get a sale you are delighted, but it is not the be all and end all for me. I just love creating and exhibiting. If I had to rely on Art for my main income it might make me unhappy, and that would kill my passion, so I am very lucky to be doing things the way that I am. Everybody has the ability to be anything that they want to be in life but what brings these qualities to the forefront is our enthusiasm to drive that talent forward. I can only speak for myself, by saying that creating something, brings me real joy in life. Being an artist is what makes me feel alive. Other people could have other reasons that drive them. Who knows?

Personally, I don't think that it is important to be educated as an artist, well it wasn't for me anyway.

Somebody can't teach you how to express yourself, that is something you have to do for yourself. Ok, you might need to teach somebody the difference between an acrylic paint and an oil paint but I don't think that you can control, or try to get everyone to keep repeating the same criteria, year-in, year-out. We are all so diverse. Choosing one way of learning in these schools of education might not suit everyone. I don't think that it does anyway. A better course of action would be to help guide those people that are starting out and not just those with lots of assignments. Instead, we should nurture and encourage a person to express themselves in a way that is fitting for them. People should do whatever makes them happy. We all have our own paths to follow, and I would always encourage people to follow what their heart is calling them to do. Nearly all towns across Ireland are now expanding, so this is bringing more culture into each one, and you can definitely see this in Limerick. You just have to go into the libraries and see the walls decorated with beautiful pieces. Friars’ Gate Theatre is also a hive of creativity, and this is inspiring the general public to be creative also. Companies can certainly play a vital role in all this by offering-up space for these ventures!

Friars’ Gate Theatre in Kilmallock will host Gemma Lalor’s ‘Magically Overactive Imagination’ Exhibition, from August 4-31, consisting of paintings, drawings and mixed media pieces. For information phone: 063-98727 or visit the website: www.friarsgate.ie Later exhibitions by the artist will take place in Tipperary, Offaly, Mayo, and Wexford. Please see: https://www.facebook.com/magicallyoveractiveimagination/?ref= bookmarks