Interview for Ross Fine Art Gallery

I love doorstep sandwiches, made with fresh bread, leftovers, mayonnaise, salt and black pepper. Preferably eaten in the sunshine at the seaside or on the top of a hill.

My very favourite colour in the whole world is blue. I spent years loving any, every blue I could find and spent great time and effort sourcing blue pigments and inks. I’m currently having an affair with green, but I don’t expect it to last.

Song and film.
There are too many to choose from. I have different favourites for every occasion and mood and sometimes none at all.

We have a dog called Mick. He’s a big, bright, ugly, hairy, black dog with caramel eyes and a moustache. He sits cross-legged outside my studio and looks at me like he knows far, far more than I ever will. This is probably true. We called him Mick because he looks like he should be sucking pints of Guinness in the back of a pub somewhere- and doing the crossword. I also really love chickens! Their inquisitive walk and their genuinely beady eyes. Chickens do the very best chicken things, they ALWAYS come home to roost, adhere rigidly to the pecking order and new ones are often henpecked. I think chickens are far more amusing to watch than TV. Chickens have very short memories.

Um… Norway, New Zealand and anywhere on the west coast of Ireland. I like islands too, Aran Island, Achill, Skellig and Tory- all islands off the west coast of Ireland. The more remote the better. This year we spent a few weeks on the Outer Hebrides, and some day I want to do a residency in on the Faroe Islands.

Books, words, poetry, libraries, museums and anything to do with art, dance or theatre. Gardening. Wandering around DIY stores, bookshops and museum gift shops, the bigger the museum the better the gift shop. Ancient sites, ruins and castles. And anything to do with farming.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
When I was 17 Paul Durcan- well known Irish poet- came on a visit to our school. That was the first time I met a real life, honest to god living, doing artist. I had not realized art was a job option before then. After that it was easy, I postponed my university Science degree to do an art course and never looked back.

How did you develop into the artist you are today?
By following the things I love to do and the places I love to be. Soon after I left college some grown-ups saw that I was willing to work hard to gain a lot of very good experience and earn enough to live on. I began organizing events for a local arts festival and Siamsa Tire. The National Folk Theatre of Ireland kindly took a risk on me as a new graduate and provided seed funding and support for my first residency and solo show (in 1996!) That project got me involved in collaborations with theatre, dance and community arts. After that one thing led to another…

Describe my studio?
I’ve had all sorts of studios, in a courthouse, a convent, a stone shed and in back rooms, spare rooms and offices. Once I had a dance studio for three months while the dancers were on tour and once I worked in a lighthouse. In our first house in New Zealand I had a studio in an old Maori Whare- a small cabin that was one of the original dwelling houses on the farm. I think that little hut was my favorite studio so far. My studio is now in the attic space of house we live in. It is the most fit- for- purpose studio I’ve ever had and will probably be the best. But I’m still settling in. It’s all new- lined and insulated with lots of lights and good working surfaces. All I need to do now is get it nicely worn and messy so it feels like my creative home again.

A typical working day?
A perfect working day for me is a day in the studio, phone off and the house to myself. But if I go into the studio first thing, promising myself that I’ll do the phone calls and admin work later on then I break my promise and spend the day in the studio. This happens every time. So my compromise is office, teaching, preparation or meetings in the morning and studio in the afternoon.

Most beautiful piece I’ve ever created?
I can’t answer that question. There pieces I’ve been very proud of over the years. The biggest piece I ever created was 2mx3.5 and called An Domhan Fothoinn, I really like that one. The best pieces are probably the little ones that slip through my fingers and out onto the page when I’m (almost) not looking.

Inspirational artists/ designers
Hughie O Donoghue, Janet Mullarney, Rothko, John Lavery, and oh so many more….

Career Dream
That retrospective in the RHA will be nice… To see more Click Here

Favourite words of wisdom
I have all sorts of sayings pasted up around the house but in terms of advice I like this one best;