The Arts Interview: Michelle Collier

John Rainsford

Reporter:

John Rainsford

The Arts Interview: Michelle Collier

Michelle Collier ceramic ‘Grime’ Artist and Painter with an upcoming exhibition at Dublin Castle

Born and bred in Bayside, a suburb in Dublin, I have had an interest in art and creativity as far back as I can remember. 

As I child I would tuck myself away in the playroom and spend hours happily drawing and colouring. My parents, Breda and Brian, fondly recall that when I was a small baby I would be fascinated by the Christmas decorations. They particularly remembered how my eyes lit-up and filled with excitement every time someone walked into the room causing the tinsel-like decorations hanging from the ceiling to move, flicker and reflect  their colours around. So, this early fascination with colour and movement must have played a huge role in igniting my creative streak.

 

 

 In Bayside National School, Friday was always my favourite day of the week, not just because it meant the weekend was here, but also because Friday was art day. 

Getting to choose my subjects in secondary school, in Santa Sabina Dominican College, I loved the prospect of having art multiple times a week. During my Leaving Certificate years, I debated what was next for me, I loved art but questioned if I was good enough for Art College. I had been volunteering with the Special Olympics, which I loved, so I was strongly considering a Social Care course. However, when it came to filling out the CAO form I just could not do it. I knew that I had to push myself and step out of my comfort zone and follow my dreams of being an artist. I, therefore, applied to do Art, Design and Mixed Media in Ballyfermot College of Further Education.

 

 

 Following Ballyfermot, I had a portfolio of work ready to submit to colleges around the country and applied and got accepted to Limerick School of Art and Design. 

I remember the excitement of receiving the acceptance letter, which quickly turned to fear. I loved the idea of LSAD but I never actually expected to get in so I had never considered having to move to Limerick. I am very much a home bird so this was a daunting idea for me, so much so, that I actually deferred my place in LSAD and worked for the year instead. The subsequent experience, however, did me world of good and allowed me to grow as a person.

 

 

 Having graduated from LSAD with a BA (Hons) Degree in Ceramic Design, today, my work centres around the ‘grime marks’ found within an urban environment.  

Having grown up in Dublin and subsequently studied in Limerick, urban environments have greatly influenced my work. I am drawn to urban marks and stains, be it a leaking pipe, faded graffiti or a grubby wall. By observing these features I zone into their own unique qualities be it colour, texture or line. I like the idea of appreciating what’s around me so I take inspiration from whatever I come across in my everyday life ranging from road marking, rusty pipes, and graffiti. My intention is to alter the perceptions of these urban marks. Taking a painterly approach, I highlight these interesting qualities. Using ceramic slabs as my blank canvas a combination of slips, stains and mixed media, gives me the freedom to explore the textural qualities and ever expanding colour range that surround me.

 

 

 Exhibitions are vital for exposure and after our LSAD Degree Show, graduating students from the Ceramics Department were lucky enough to be shown at the ‘New Designers’ exhibition in London. 

This was a great way of showcasing ourselves to an audience who wouldn't usually get to see our work (LSAD was the only Irish college there!). It was a fantastic opportunity. I also recently exhibited at K-Fest in Killorglin, Kerry. This was like no exhibition that I have ever been to. They ditch the idea of a gallery space having to be a white cube and instead transform the disused buildings within the town into gallery spaces. I was exhibiting in Boyles Shop, a former hardware store. You could see how brilliantly curated the exhibition was because each of the artists’ work fitted perfectly with their location and complimented the other artists also exhibiting in the space. They take on about 100 emerging artists spanning over 12 gallery spaces. As cliché as it sounds, the whole festival felt like a big supportive family. The festival itself draws in all types of artistic styles and people of all backgrounds.

 Michelle’s next exhibition, entitled Clay/Works, is for members of Ceramics Ireland, and will show  at Dublin Castle, from July 7-29 .