Artist Interview - Joe Hogan

April 27, 2010

Website interview with Joe Hogan, one of the Curators of Draíocht’s current Exhibition,
'European Baskets', In association with The Crafts Council of Ireland
Fri 9 Apr - Sat 29 May 2010 // DRAÍOCHT, GROUND FLOOR GALLERY // Free Admission // Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm


Joe Hogan

Brief Introduction:
This exhibition features work by almost 80 of Europe’s leading basket-makers in materials ranging from wire to willow and includes both contemporary, sculptural work and traditional techniques. Visitors to the gallery will see how the work varies hugely from country to country, as do the materials. Curators Joe Hogan (Ire) and Mary Butcher (UK) are passionate about exposing people to these wonderful, age-old techniques.

Sadly, when the old basket makers die, so too will their traditional baskets,” says Hogan. “But as well as looking back, we are focusing on cutting edge contemporary work and that space in between, which most basket makers inhabit, creating professional, functional baskets.”

This exhibition was produced by the National Craft Gallery in 2007 and is touring to a number of venues in Ireland, the UK and Europe.
Joe Hogan is a traditional basketmaker and teacher who lives and works in Clonbur, Co. Galway. Joe has written a book ‘Basketmaking in Ireland’ and has a website http://www.joehoganbaskets.com/




Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background, where you’re from and where you live?
A: I live at loch na Fooey between the villages of Clonbur and Leenane, on the the borders of Connemara and west Mayo but I am originally from Caltra in east Galway.


Q: When you were small, what did you want to be when you grew up? Were there any clues in your childhood that you would follow an artistic path later?
A: I am not sure I have followed an artistic path but no, there were no clues that I would become a crafts person. In fact I was not very skilled with my hands when I was young, at least in relation to my brothers but there was a general atmosphere of fixing things in the household.


Q: How long have you been basket making and why choose an arty profession over a more conventional career?
A: I have been making baskets since 1977 and working full time at it since 1978. I originally went to university in Galway to study for an arts degree in history and philosophy and met my wife there. We wanted to live in the countryside and I thought basketmaking would provide a reasonable stable income and turn a rural location into an advantage. I feel it is very important to like the work you do .



Q: Can you tell us more about the skill involved in basket making and what inspired you to write your book ‘Basketmaking in Ireland’?
A: The basic techniques in basketmaking are reasonably quick to learn. Absolute beginners can make baskets but the shape may not be very uniform. When I give workshops for instance most participants will make 2 to 3 baskets over a 4 day period but it takes much longer to perfect the techniques so that each basket comes out the shape you want it to be. I think one could be improving in this area always and it is the constant repetition of techniques that brings one closer to perfection. 'Basketmaking in Ireland' came about a result of my interest in the traditional baskets of Ireland and as many of the designs are unique to Ireland I realized I should record these techniques for the future.






Q: When did you create your first basket and what was your inspiration?
A: 1976 or 1977, I was drawn to basketmaking because I was also interested in growing willow which is the basic raw material for the baskets I make.




Q: Do you grow your own materials or do you source some materials from abroad? Is there a lot of other equipment needed for basket making?
A: Yes I grow my own willow but I also buy in some willow for teaching as the willow I grow myself is harder and therefore not ideal for people beginning basketmaking. You need very little equipment for basketmaking, at a pinch a knife will do.


Q: Has your style changed over the years and what might have influenced this change if yes?
A: Yes my style has change a lot in the last 10 years as I have become more interested in making non functional  work. This change is perhaps a result of a desire to express a sense of belonging to the earth through the work.



Q: What other artists or people have influenced or inspired you, and in what ways?
A: I read a good bit of nature poetry by poets such as Mary Oliver, Rilke, Wendell Berry and Seamus Heaney for example.


Q: How do you keep motivated if you’re having a bad day?
A: I enjoy the work I do so its easy to stay interested but I also like gardening and walking so can have variety if I need it.


Q: How have you handled the business side of being an artist, promoting yourself and getting exposure, selling your work etc?
A: I find the business side a bit difficult at times but have been fortunate to have had a good bit of exposure so can usually sell my work fairly easily.



Q: Could you tell us a little more about the exhibition ‘European Baskets’ currently on exhibition in Draiocht?
A: This exhibition aims to give a snapshot of basketmaking in Europe so it combines very traditional work - like the Scottish Kishies made by Ewen Balfour for example - with very artistic work and we have also included a wide range of functional work with various uses.


Q: Do you have any advice you could give to an artist just starting out or to someone interested in taking up basket making?
A: It is not a particularly easy field to get into so one would need to enjoy the work itself to compensate for the difficulty of learning the skills.


Q: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I try to live in the present moment!

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts,

ARTIST INTERVIEW: Ross McDonnell

February 11, 2009

ARTIST INTERVIEW: Ross McDonnell

Every painting leads to a new painting. I never think exactly the same way that I thought before. The basic gesture and palate remains almost the same, but the rest evolves and always permutates differently. Change, for me, is influenced by the last work, the last body of work, and what is thought to be needed to complete a current body of work ....”

Ross McDonnell, February 2009

Introduction:
This is Ross McDonnell's third solo show in Dublin. 'the new brilliant' is an exhibition of new paintings. The title for this exhibition came from the name of a Chinese restaurant that the artist noticed while working in India earlier this year.
 
McDonnell has previously exhibited at the Cross Gallery, the Goethe Institute, the Ashford Gallery and the Royal Hibernian Academy. His work is part of numerous private and public collections, including the OPW and AXA Insurance collection. McDonnell graduated with a Batchelor of Fine Art from the National College of Art and Design in 2002.

Q: Can you take us through your life after Art College up to now?
I graduated with a Batchelor of Fine Art from the National College of Art and Design in 2002. At my degree show I was selected for a Post-Graduate exhibition at the Ashford Gallery by Mark St John Ellis, a curator who is very supportive of young graduates. This led to a solo exhibition two years later in the same space, called ‘Snow Dreams, Pink Dawns and Other Stuff that Happens’.

Shortly after this I had a two person show at the Goethe Institute, titled ‘Warsaw’, with artist Noel Brennan. The show was curated by Gavin Delahunty. During the three week install I made three frescos in the small space. There was an ephemeral context to the frescos that I was interested in ... being site specific, they only lasted the duration of the exhibition.

I then took a Project Studio place at Temple Bar Gallery and Studios. The work I produced here led to my second solo exhibition which was at the Cross Gallery in September 2007, titled ‘Papillon’. I designed a catalogue for this exhibition. This was another learning curve. The link in catalogue style to the work is something that I consider very important. Equally important to me was the design of my website, www.rossmcdonnell.ie, which I made over the last year while documenting new work.

And over the last five years I have worked intermittently as an art technician (Rha, IMMA, Kerlin Gallery). It’s a great way to supplement income while also being involved with other artists and their work.


 

Q: Have you ever had a conventional day job to supplement your income as an artist and if yes does this interfere with your creativity and focus?
After graduation I worked with the Mermaid Cafe as a chef. I worked all sections of the kitchen, starting at the bottom, ending with pastry. With at least a fifty hour week, my days off spent in a studio and obligatory socialising to de-stress after kitchen work, I did not get much sleep and I certainly found it hard to get much quality studio work done.
 

 

Q: Has your style changed over the years and what might have influenced this change if yes?
Every painting leads to a new painting. I never think exactly the same way that I thought before. The basic gesture and palate remains almost the same, but the rest evolves and always permutates differently. Change, for me, is influenced by the last work, the last body of work, and what is thought to be needed to complete a current body of work. My ideas also change with experience and age. My work mirrors the changes in my ideas.

Q: Have you tried other art forms like photography, sculpting, making music, or dancing, for instance?
I have tried, and still experiment with lots of crafts. Cooking for instance. I also take lots of photographs that filter into my painting. And I recently made a short film. I have not yet felt the need to exhibit anything other then my paintings though.


Ross McDonnell, 'yellow studio wall', oil, canvas, gesso, mdf. 53 x 48.5cm. 2008

Q: What other artists or people have influenced or inspired you, and in what ways?
Lately I have begun to look into ideas stolen from other people’s fiction.
J. D. Salinger's ‘A perfect day for Bananafish’; Henri Charriere's ‘Papillon’; Somerset Maughan's ‘The Moon and Sixpence’ - the suspension of disbelief deep into narrative. My artistic influences are diverse. I have always found solace in the work of Henri Matisse. In my employment, I often handle or construct work that I like and all this has probably influenced me. Howard Hodgkin, Pierre Huyghe, Peter Doig, James Coleman, Padraig Timoney and Varda Caivano to name a few.


Ross McDonnell, 'the new brilliant', oil, canvas, glue, gesso. 200 x 215cm. 2008

Q: How do you keep motivated if you’re having a bad day?
When I’m having a good day I make a list of things that I have to do that involve no imagination. Then on a bad day at the studio I do these tasks while listening to music or audio-books. Completing the tasks usually leads to a better day.

Q: How have you handled the business side of being an artist, promoting yourself and getting exposure, selling your work etc?
I have been afforded opportunities that have come from earlier exhibitions, one thing leading to another. I maintain applications for many opportunities that I do not always get. I have been blessed with sales at exhibitions, which funds more time to make work. I focus on constantly developing my paintings. The rest should fall into place with less effort then making the actual work.


Ross McDonnell, 'conceal and reveal', oil, canvas, glue, primer. 200 x 215cm. 2008

Q: Could you tell us a little more about your current exhibition in Draíocht ‘the new brilliant’? Did your trip to India have much influence on this exhibition? What brought you there?
I went to India with my girlfriend, Keara, who was stationed there for two months with her work. We were at an industrial estate outside Delhi. I guess the colour of India filtered into the work in this exhibition. One observation helped me find a title for the show. And the piece ‘Conceal and reveal’, which is a figurative painting, came directly from some drawings I was making in reaction to India.

I spent just under a year on this body of work. My current studio is isolated from other artist’s studios, so I have not had much distraction and almost no visitors. I only began to show the work to people after it was all completed. Each painting has been carefully structured; overworking, overpainting and sometimes deleting sections so that the entire arrangement of the picture is balanced and every detail has a compositional function.

Some of the work for this exhibition is very large. In fact at 200 x 215cm they were as big as I could possibly make in the studio space, they just about fit out of the studio door. The ideas in some of these works required a larger scale then my previous works. The expansive force of the compositional elements took precedence over the figurative representations in the images. The balance between abstractions and the image became looser and more instinctual then before. The work is raw and unrestrained.

The title of paintings has always been important to me. Titles serve as an indicator of some of the references within the paintings. With these works, the words of the title have sometimes made their way onto the surface, with letters acting as compositional elements and feeding into the obliterations of the underlying image.

Draíocht’s  First Floor Gallery  space has many unusual elements to the architecture (for an exhibition space) that require consideration when hanging the work. With this exhibition, I am interested in employing strategies of display. There will be selective pairings and groupings of work. I want the installation of the paintings to be more critical to the viewing of the work.


Draíocht’s  First Floor Gallery with Ross McDonnell's current exhibition


Draíocht’s  First Floor Gallery with Ross McDonnell's current exhibition

For more information on the artist and his work please visit www.rossmcdonnell.ie


For media information about Draíocht please contact:
Nicola Murphy, Marketing Press & PR Manager, Draíocht
Tel: 01-8098021

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Ross McDonnell,

ARTIST INTERVIEW: Janine Davidson

December 1, 2008

Janine Davidson / Black Church Print Studio in conversation with Nicola Murphy in December 2008

I have been captivated by the motif of the hot air balloon which is evident in my current work. In 'Ascension I' it’s coupled with collaged pieces of envelopes, mixing the everyday with the idea of escape..”Janine Davidson, December 2008



Brief Introduction: 

Janine Davidson is a member of the Black Church Print Studio, and she and 10 other members are featured in Draíocht's current exhibition 'Inhabit' in the First Floor Gallery. Draíocht and the Black Church Print Studio invited the studio’s members to submit work for an exhibition under the title of ‘Inhabit’. The title ‘Inhabit’ refers to the notion of home, family and belonging, and is of particular significance for this show which will take place during the Christmas period, a time when families and friends come together and spend time in ritual and celebration. The exhibition will comprise a wide range of media, which will showcase the diverse technical vocabulary of printed matter. Black Church Print Studio is one of the leading fine art print studios in Ireland, located in Dublin’s city centre. It was established in 1982 as a non-profit organisation and is grant-aided by the Arts Council and Dublin City Council.Janine was born in Belfast, and she graduated from NCAD in 1997 with a B.A Hons in Fine Art, Printmaking and subsequently with a Higher Diploma in Community Arts in 2003. She has been a Black Church Print Studio member since 2001 and is currently on the Board of Directors. She is also part of the Artists Panel in IMMA 2007/2008. Her work has been exhibited internationally in New York, Sweden, South Africa, France and here in Ireland. Recent Group exhibitions include Iontas, RHA Annual Show and Milestones at the OPW, an exhibition showcasing the work of Black Church members as part of the studios twenty five year celebration programme. In recent years she has participated in residencies in Johannesburg and Nice where she had her first solo show. 


Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background, where you're from and where you live?

I was born and bred in Belfast. I moved to Dublin to go to college in 1993. I graduated from NCAD in 1997 with a B.A Hons in Fine Art, Printmaking and completed a Post graduate in Community Arts at NCAD in 2003. I lived in Berlin for a year whilst on Erasmus and have taken part in residencies in Johannesburg and Nice. I am currently living in the Liberties with my partner and our two young kids.




Title: Up Up & Away (2007) / Medium: Etching


Q: When you were small, what did you want to be when you grew up? Were there any clues in your childhood that you would follow an artistic path later?

I always enjoyed art at school, entering competitions, encouraged by my Aunt Annette who worked in illustration and my mum who was very supportive and encouraging. I also had a very pragmatic and dedicated teacher Mrs Bowen to whom I owe a great deal. We used to be given special permission to use the art room on weekends in preparation for our A levels.


Q: How long have you been an artist and why choose an arty profession over a more conventional career, like being an accountant, or working in an office for instance?

I have been making art a long time and exhibiting since 1995 so its kind of second nature at this stage. I have dabbled in office work on occasion and let’s just say accountancy was never my forte.




Title: 2158 (2006) / Medium: Digital Print


Q: Perhaps you also have a conventional day job to supplement your income as an artist and if yes does this interfere with your creativity and focus?

I work in different community contexts which I feel greatly enhances my practice. I just recently finished working with Artsbase at IMMA which was really interesting. I have also been working with the Phibsboro Retirement Association for seven years so as you can imagine we have established a very strong friendship.


Q: When did you create your first print and what was your subject matter?

I made my first print on a school trip to the Ulster Museum working with the artist Terence Gravett. It was a portrait, I still have the original woodblock, somewhere.



Title: Poste Restante (2006) / Medium: Ditigal Print


Q: Has your style changed over the years and what might have influenced this change if yes?

I think your style changes all the time perhaps becoming a bit more finely tuned as you develop your practice taking on board what is going on around you and where you are at.


Q: Have you ever tried other art forms like photography, sculpting, making music, or dancing for instance?

I use a lot of photographic imagery in my work so I have always worked with photography. I have made video and installation pieces and more recently made paper constructions for the Jeco Sword Show. I love experimenting with different media and wouldn’t like to limit myself to just printmaking. It depends really, different ideas lend themselves to different forms, so I just go with it. I’ve never really been any good at music but I have always enjoyed a good dance.



Title: Ascension (2008) / Exhibition: Trapezium / Medium: Paper & Alluminium


Q: Tell us more about Jeco Sword?

Jeco Sword is a Dublin based artists collective consisting of myself, Clodagh Emoe, Orla Whelan and Sinead O’Reilly. We as a group of friends engage in a variety of different networks and activities and then intermittently return to each other to relate and share our broadening and contrasting experiences. The group’s diverse disciplines, which include, drawing, painting, print and installation, creates a compilation that works both independently and collectively. Our second exhibition was called 'Trapezium', which is a constellation of four stars that together form a unique relationship. This was an exhibition of new work which functioned as an exchange of ideas and revealed the investigative nature of our project. By assembling the wide range of art practices in one space this inventive exhibition explored notions of inter-connectivity and resonance. The show comprised of a large fragmented drawing by Sinead O’Reilly. My work featured an installation of miniature hot-air balloons (see above). Orla Whelan presented new large paintings and Clodagh Emoe produced a floor piece to facilitate gatherings and transitory exercises.


Q: What other artists or people have influenced or inspired you, and in what ways?

I am a big fan of William Kentridge, a South African Artist, whose work I became familiar with while on a residency in Johannesburg. I also have an amazing group of friends from college who are all very successful and inspiring artists.


Q: How do you keep motivated if you're having a bad day?

I hang out with my kids which brings everything into perspective.


Q: How do you juggle being a mother and an artist?

By doing just that, constantly juggling - the more you practice the easier it gets.


Q: How have you handled the business side of being an artist, promoting yourself and getting exposure, selling your work etc?

I probably haven’t handled it as well as I could have but I am definitely working on that side of things, picking up tips from fellow artists on the way.



Title: Ascension I (2008) / Exhibition: Inhabit, at Draíocht (2008/2009) / Medium: Drypoint, Chine Collé


Q: Could you tell us a little more about your work 'Ascension I', as featured in Draíocht's current exhibition 'Inhabit', featuring work by you and other members of the Black Church Print Studio?

'Ascension I' , is part of an ongoing body of work that aims to explore the habitual, the everyday routine and our subsequent attempt to break from these grounding elements. It is informed by a piece ' The Ascension' an installation which was exhibited at the Lab in June 2008 as part of the Trapezium show by Jeco Sword. I have been captivated by the motif of the hot air balloon which is evident in my current work. In 'Ascension I' it’s coupled with collaged pieces of envelopes, mixing the everyday with the idea of escape.


Q: Can you tell us some more about the Black Church Print Studio? How long have you been a member?

The Black Church Print Studio, in Temple bar, provides printmaking facilities for an increasing number of members and non member artists. Artists have access to etching, screenprint, lithography, relief presses and multimedia equipment. I have been a member since 2001 and am currently on the Board of Directors. Last year the studio celebrated its 25th anniversary which incorporated many new initiatives both within the studio and collaboratively with other spaces like The Lab, we are actively working to continue and develop such projects.



Title: The Victoria (2001) / Medium: Mangle Paper and Wood


Q: What other exhibitions are coming up for you in the future?

I am developing my current body of work with a view to having a solo exhibition.


Q: Do you have any advice you could give to an artist just starting out?

Travel wide and take note. Peer critique is invaluable.


Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In a purpose built studio in Kilkenny, growing my own vegetables and enjoying the good life.


Q: What are your interests and hobbies outside of the art world?

I love second hand shops, lots of hidden treasures and yoga when I get the chance.

 


Title: Tempes I (1996) / Medium: Chine Collé




Title: Tempes II (1996) / Medium: Chine Collé



INHABIT - ARTIST’S STATEMENTS

CAROLINE BYRNE
The Hunt for Red Riding Hood
The origin of Folklore was an oral tradition- tales were passed on over the generations, stories told at bedtime, fireside gatherings, evening family entertainment for young and old. As with oral tradition many versions evolved and survived but none more popular than those that were recorded by the brothers Grimm. Originally recorded under the title 'Children's Stories and Household Tales' nearly two centuries ago, but now more commonly known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, they continue to inhabit the imagination of young children today. The following illustration takes its inspiration from the tale 'Little Red Riding Hood', but its roots lie in other more macabre versions of the past when the wild and predatory wolf, and a growing hysteria over the existence the werewolf created a more frightening fantasy. Here the blood thirsty wolf hunts down Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother.


JANE GARLAND
I can see your house from here
The prints are based on photographs taken this year of windows in Dublin. What people choose to present in their windows or how they use their window space can provide the passer-by with material on which to base a variety of judgments, suppositions and imaginings regarding the lives of the building.


COLIN MARTIN
Day Sleeper
A Minor Place

Colin Martin’s Practice cross-references the traditional genres of European painting with theatrical and lens based narrative to create a staged familiar reality. Martin’s practice marshall the viewer into conventional collective spaces and once there the viewer must navigate their own narrative path.
The stating point for Martin’s current practice is Robert Venturi’s assertion that the vernacular architectural environments of the leisure industry have eclipsed High Modernism’s pursuit of utopian Ideals in the provision of a space that provides it’s inhabitants with what they want as opposed to what they need. It is this non-hierarchal and anti- judgmental space that provides an exposition for a narrative that has yet to unfold.


MARY A. FITZGERALD
Cloud Chair
Mobile
Her new work is rooted in the experience of looking; subjects are drawn from the artist’s response to her immediate environment. The experience of looking is not only based on what you see with your eyes which gives you the sensation of something, but also how your history, experience and emotions process what you are looking at.
Her work not only creates suggestions of places and things, but evokes sensations and sense of experience. Her iconography originates from the everyday, with imagery often based on a fleeting visual memory. The work refers to an eclectic gathering of daily and sometimes random things seen.


AOIFE DWYER
Tide Marks I
Tide Marks III
This work evolved from an interest in drawing attention to everyday domestic objects, spaces and surfaces. These etchings form part of a body of work titled ‘Found Drawings’. The imagery is developed from observations of stains, cobwebs, and pencil marks exposed on the walls of a house during demolition. The prints are built up in layers using several plates. The medium of etching is used to record the memory of a place or surface.


CATRIONA LEAHY
Reminiscing
Roots
Hayday
This series of prints takes inspiration from my preoccupation with my family’s history and the farm we have inhabited over three generations. A collection of old family photographs from my father’s childhood pervades the work, depicting memories of times gone by. Through the work I have reconstructed memories using those photographs coupled with my own personal experiences and reflections of my childhood. The colours and textures used, provide for the viewer clues to content and interpretation; the eggshell blue in Roots is symbolic of the colour typically found in farmhouse kitchens, while the lace patterning in Hayday is reminiscent of net curtains, a common feature on every window. The process of printmaking lends itself beautifully to the idea of reconstructing this story. I build the imagery up in layers, using various plates and components. Each component has its owm specific relevance within the story. The result is a commemoration to and a remembrance of the past, while also highlighting the importance of keeping alive the memories which inhabit our thoughts.


JANINE DAVIDSON
Ascension I
“Ascension I”, is part of an ongoing body of work that aims to explore the habitual, the everyday routine and our subsequent attempt to break from these grounding elements. The existential nature of this piece is expressed not solely in the work but more importantly in the envelopes used to construct it, envelopes which have been used in communications between friends and family a system that is becoming more and more obsolete.


DARYL SLEIN
Untitled
The work is about the remembrance of Jesus Christ and how the commercial aspect of life has taken over this time of remembrance.


DAVID MCGINN
Bomber & Stairwell
The current work is concerned thematically with the spaces we occupy both real and remembered. From the physical architectural space that surrounds us but often gets overlooked to the imagined emotional spaces that colour our perception of those same more tangible realities. The printmaking techniques I am exploring also involve a juxtaposition of traditional methods, drypoint, etching and screenprint with the more experimental means of photo intaglio and digital imaging.


PIIA ROSSI
Physical, Emotional and Spiritual
Piia Rossi is an artist originally from Finland, where she obtained a diploma in jewellery making in 1989. In 1992 she moved to Dublin to study in the NCAD from where she obtained a BA in printmaking in 1996 and M.Litt. in Education in 2007. Rossi is interested in issues of everyday life around her that she identifies as “normality”. He imagery often derives from home environment, as well as from the wider community setting. Rossi’s art communicates issues such as belonging, identity and nationality, she is interested in our desire for a personal territory. Her work frequently addresses the subject matter of ‘home’ and she combines her delicate drawings to portray her subject matter with varying sized installations.
Rossi’s chosen techniques are drawing and printmaking although her work often takes a 3D form. She is mostly interested in fine line drawing using any medium that suits the particular piece; pencil, ink, colouring pencils, marker, pen, and various printmaking techniques.
Rossi’s work has also gradually developed into participatory projects where she combines her experience in running educational workshops with her studio practice. The theme of home is transferred to the ‘Home-Sweet-Home’ participatory installation which will take place in the Signal Art Centre, Bray in May 2009. Also 2009 Rossi will be exhibiting a large-scale participatory installation at the South Tipparary Art Centre. Her continually running participatory installation piece ‘Wandermäler’ was performed in the Killruddery Art Festival, Bray, June 2008. During 2008-09 Rossi is running pilot performances to further develop her project ‘There is no place like Home’; this project is supported by the Arts Council New Work Development Award. Her latest participatory exhibition ‘No Man’s Land’ took place at the Original Print Gallery October 2008.


MARY FRAZER
Home Sweet Home
Is Anyone there?
We all inhabit a home of some kind. When seen in the context of one’s own familiar town and neighbourhood home is a comfortable, even cosy concept. However, when seen in the context of the vastness of the universe it seems a small and lonely place.
This is the feeling I have tried to convey in these prints.


For further information about Artist Janine Davidson, or any artists from the Black Church Print Studio, please contact:
Black Church Print Studio, www.print.ie

Or contact Janine directly by email: janined8@gmail.com


For media information about Draíocht please contact:
Nicola Murphy, Marketing Press & PR Manager, Draíocht
Tel: 01-8098021 or email nicola@draiocht.ie

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Janine Davidson,

CHOREOGRAPHER/DANCER INTERVIEW: John Scott

October 1, 2008

John Scott in conversation with Nicola Murphy in October 2008 ahead of IMDT's show, 'It is better to ...' coming to Draíocht on 21 October 2008.




”... I love getting immersed in a piece with a group of inspiring people and getting so caught up we get totally lost, then finding a beautiful solution. Then the excitement of performing the work and engaging in it with the public.” John Scott, October 2008

Introduction:


It is better to…
Following acclaimed sell out performances in New York and Dublin Fringe Festival, Irish Modern Dance Theatre presents their most exciting and hilarious show 'It is better to...' by Berlin Dance innovator Thomas Lehmen for one performance only.

People have only one chance:
One chance of making things better,
better than the last time
Who they want to be
How they dance
Where they are
What they do with each other
Their politics
Their overall life
Their religious life
Their emotional behaviour
Their sexual practice
How they start
How they pause
How they end
To make a better mix
A better difference
A better relation
A better order
A better communication
A better joke

Choreographic material created and performed by:
Marc Rees, John Scott, Patrick Michael Stewart and Cheryl Therrien.


Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background, where you're from and where you live?

I was born in the north side of Dublin but grew up in Dun Laoghaire. I originally wanted to be a writer and went to UCD to study English and Classics but got swept into Dramsoc. I took my first dance classes there and started to create my own work. I moved into the city centre a long time ago - I love the energy of living in the middle of a city - the busy streets - the bustle.



Q: When you were small, what did you want to be when you grew up? Were there any clues in your childhood that you would follow an artistic path later?

I first wanted to be a fireman but then a performer or musician then a writer then an actor then a dancer - I didn't perform as a child, though my brother Michael used to make plays and puppet shows for me and our cousins - the performing and dance stuff started while I was at UCD then exploded and I started to study dance courses abroad and became apprenticed to Dublin City Ballet.




Q: Your brother Michael Scott is also heavily involved in the arts scene, with City Theatre Dublin. Are your parents artistic and did they guide you into the arts or influence you artistically?

Yes, Michael is a director and also composes music. My Mother was a singer and my Father Leslie was lighting designer at the Abbey Theatre. I saw everything at the Abbey. Even our family dog performed in the Abbey in 'The Shaughran' with Cyril Cusack - we were all rather wrapped up in the business. We also went to the opera sometimes. My Dad wrote poetry and made props for shows so the house was always full of theatrical things. I was aware of the long hours and the hard work. My parents encouraged me to find a real job but when they saw how determined I was, they gave me every encouragement.



Q: How long have you been a choreographer and why choose an arty profession over a more conventional career, like being an accountant, or working in an office for instance?

I made my first dance piece in 1985 - I established Irish Modern Dance Theatre in 1991. My need and compulsion to make dance work was so strong that no other career was an option. I used to distribute theatre posters to pay for my dance studies and had a very tough time financially but it was worth it. When Irish Modern Dance Theatre first toured to New York it felt like a dream come true.



Q: How did IMDT come about?

I created the company to present my own work and collaborate with other international choreographers. The dance scene was very conservative and small in Ireland at the time. I saw incredible dance being made in France, Germany, USA and felt that Ireland could also produce great dance. I wanted to give an Irish public a chance to see great dance work and give Irish dancers a chance to develop their creativity and for us all to take risks and experiment. Irish performing arts are dominated by theatre and narrative drama. I wanted to open it up to other things.



Q: Can you talk us through your creative process? Where do you start when you're creating a new piece?

I keep creative notebooks. I write down all the things I don't want to do and try to reduce the elements to what is essential. I dance alone a bit - I improvise, then start to bring others in - dancers - performers. A lot happens in the studio. It starts to form into a piece - the composition of the cast is important - who I work with can define the piece. I like people who are fearless but also sensitive and who leave space for things to happen. We have a lot of fun and play a lot in the studio. Play with conventions of dance and theatre and try to push things and also wait for the magic to happen.

Q: Can you remember the very first show you choreographed?

When in Dramsoc I made a fifteen minute 'thing' called 'Ruins' - then at Dublin City Ballet a piece called 'Semaphores', then for Irish Modern Dance Theatre the first piece was called 'Beneath the Storm' - a duet inspired by the first Gulf War. The first moment was a dancer with her back to the audience, walking backwards. I wanted to break the convention of a dancer facing the audience.

Q: Has your style changed over the years and what might have influenced this change if yes?

I think I'm still coming from the same place but there is definitely an evolution. The work looks wilder and rougher - we hide the artifice in a sort of clumsiness - there is a lot more humour now too. Also the cast is mixed with dancers of vastly different backgrounds. We don't use music and flashy costumes at the moment. We combine music with silence and text. I like interesting lived in performers. I like people with strong presence and people who need to perform the work and will take the risk of looking silly and I stress the humanity and inner dignity of the performers. Since 2003 I have been working with clients of SPIRASI - the Centre for Care for the Survivors of Torture. Now several clients perform regularly in all my work. We have a very multi cultural cast and there are many languages.



Q: Have you ever tried other art forms like photography, sculpting, making music, or writing for instance?

I have begun to take photographs which I like doing. I am also an opera singer and train with a teacher in London and New York and perform and sing. It compliments what I do in my choreography as I feel dance is a kind of music of the body.

Q: What other choreographers or people have influenced or inspired you, and in what ways?

My influences are Joan Denise Moriarty - the founder of Irish National Ballet, for all her long battles to establish dance in Ireland. The first dance that really inspired me was Kurt Joos's GREEN TABLE - a famous ballet from the 1930's. Current choreographers include Meredith Monk - a composer, singer, choreographer, film maker from New York and William Forsythe - an American based in Frankfurt who recently performed in Dublin Dance Festival. I also adore Raimund Hoghe and Pina Bausch, two German choreographers, but above all one of my big idols is Merce Cuningham - the greatest living choreographer based in New York. The Living Theatre of Julian Beck and Judith Malina were a big inspiration since I met them when I was 18. Their work and their vision blew me away.

Q: Is there anyone famous you would love to meet or work with?

I've been lucky to have worked with one of my idols - Meredith Monk - I performed in her piece QUARRY in the USA in 2003. I also know William Forsythe and Raimun Hoghe and Merce Cunningham. I would love to work with Robert Wilson, the American director and Peter Sellars and Alain Platel the Belgian choreographer. I would love to work with Liam O'Maonlai on a project sometime too.



Q: What is the thing you most enjoy about your work?

I love getting immersed in a piece with a group of inspiring people and getting so caught up we get totally lost, then finding a beautiful solution. Then the excitement of performing the work and engaging in it with the public. Also the travel. I recently worked with a group of dancers in Palestine - It was totally inspiring to make something beautiful together and to share with great people despite the tragedy and hardship under which they are living. They really need art like oxygen.

Q: How do you keep motivated if you're having a bad day?

I keep going and try to find a positive way out. Usually a bad day is followed by a good day - We need the bad days to get to rock bottom before we can soar upwards.

Q: How have you handled the business side of being a choreographer, promoting yourself and getting exposure, selling your shows to venues etc?

It was always essential to fight for visibility and for funding. I have always had to fight and justify myself. I am so wound up about what we're doing that my enthusiasm and energy and persistence carries over to other people.

Q: Could you tell us a little more about your forthcoming show at Draiocht, 'It is better to ...'? And how come you've chosen to dance in this show?

'It is Better to...' is made by an incredible dance visionary from Berlin - Thomas Lehmen. I saw his work in Germany in 2000 and it blew me away. I made contact with him and he came and held workshops here. He really wanted me in the performance. I had to swap being the boss to being one of the dancers. He was a hard task master. It was very difficult for all the dancers but the piece is really terrific and is worth the effort. We are four performers and we each have suggestions or proposals about what is better to do - we say this and we all demonstrate. It is very very funny and very smart. Also very physical. We have a lot of dance - also based on our texts but very athletic and beautiful and graceful and even romantic.

Q: Did you have to do any special fitness training in preparation for the show?

Thomas is a football fanatic. Part of the training involved playing football every day - also partly to keep warm as the studio where we were rehearsing was so cold. We all do our own warm up - I do a mixture of ballet exercises and some of the warm up taught by US choreographer Sara Rudner with a lot of stretching - and a bit of Pilates.



Q: So what's coming up for IMDT in the coming months?

On 31 October we perform in Liverpool as part of Capital Nights - then we start on a new work collaborating with filmmaker Charles Atlas. We will tour to Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Israel in the Spring then perform in Dublin Dance Festival.

Q: Do you have any advice you could give to a Choreographer just starting out or someone really passionate about dance in Ireland?

Take lots of classes - work work work. Don't give up on the difficult days - Don't compromise - Don't be discouraged - Don't look for easy solutions - Don't try to please people - Keep your eyes open and let everything in.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope to be doing more and bigger better pieces and still doing what we are doing now too - maybe with more support.



Q: What are your interests and hobbies outside of dance and choreography?

I like to cook and go to the cinema when there’s time.




To contact John Scott or Irish Modern Dance Theatre, please log on to
http://www.irishmoderndancetheatre.com


For media information please contact:
Nicola Murphy, Marketing Press & PR Manager, Draíocht
Tel: 01-8098021



What the press have said about IT IS BETTER TO ...  

* * * * * “It is better to believe red stars rather than black words. It is better not to have preconceptions about dance...It is better to see the performance for yourself” The Irish Times


“Mr. Lehmen's marvelous quartet was marvelously performed on Thursday night by Marc Rees, Patrick Michael Stewart, Cheryl Therrien and the company's artistic director, John Scott. The dancers offered a multitude of views (jotted down on their arms, lest they forget), that included, among other thoughts, that ''it is better to live in Chelsea and have a small dog,'' or ''hold an awkward position for as long as possible,'' or ''kiss somebody for the very last time.'' Some opinions functioned as statements and others as orders, with all four studiously enacting tasks, both mundane and absurd, until the next better thing was proposed. Simply watching the four of them move to the center and imitate a dead thing was worth the price of admission. But the most exciting moments came in the fleeting, possibility-laden spaces between spoken ideals and physical replications, when a lively creative energy engulfed performers and audience members alike: ''What will they do? What would I do?''
NEW YORK TIMES


“A radical and funny work by Berlin based Thomas Lehman, one of Europe’s leading young choreographers ... Guaranteed to be exciting, funny and stimulating.”
The Event Guide


“Thomas Lehmen seems to have the alchemist’s touch when it comes to making performers and audience coalesce.”
Ballettanz


“What is left to perform ... when every movement has been done before?” “Lehman toys with the debris of the avant garde ... probes into the very notion of the dancing body”
Dance Europe


About the choreographer:
Thomas Lehmen, born in Germany, trained in the School for New Dance Development, Amsterdam, lives and works in Berlin. Baustelle-Einfahrt Freihalte, Distanzlos, Mono Subjects, Clever, Schreibstück, Stationen, Lehmen Lernt andHeromatik are among his recent productions. www.thomaslehmen.de


John Scott and Irish Modern Dance Theatre

John Scott , Artistic Director

Born in Dublin and graduate of UCD, Scott trained at the Irish National College of Dance and Dublin City Ballet where he worked with Anna Sokolow. He performed with Meredith Monk in Quarry, Spoleto Festival, USA and for Pablo Vela and Theatre Labatorium, New York, and studied with Susan Buirge, Anne Crosset, Andy De Groat and Janet Panetta. He has choreographed for theatre, film and commercials. A pioneer of new expression, Scott founded the Irish Modern Dance Theatre in 1991 and they have since performed throughout Ireland and the USA, Germany, UK, France, Bulgaria, Sweden, Estonia and Turkey. In 2000, his work Intimate Gold was a finalist for the Prix de Bagnolet in the Rencontres Internationales de Seine Saint Denis, the most prestigious choreographic competition in the world. Sometimes seen as a battle against the conservatism in Irish theatre and dance, Scott’s choreographic work is playful, quirky and idiosyncratic, playing with different performance situations, from theatres to museums to a restaurant. Using performers of all different styles, ages and backgrounds, his most recent project has been with refugees from the Centre for Care for the Survivors of Torture in Dublin. Scott is also a board member of International Dance Festival of Ireland, Association of Professional Dancers in Ireland and the National Youth Theatre for the Deaf.


Irish Modern Dance Theatre

Irish Modern Dance Theatre was founded in 1991 by internationally trained choreographer John Scott, and is now regarded as one of the most original and innovative dance companies working in Ireland. It was established to create new, provocative and interdisciplinary works that reach new frontiers, exposing and challenging audiences and dancers to new forms of dance, crossing disciplines and boundaries. Playing with every theatrical and dance convention, IMDT has developed an audience with a curiosity for modern dance in a country known more for its literary traditions and text based drama. One of the hallmarks of their work over the years has been John Scott’s imaginative collaboration with other artists, such as playwright and visionary Tom Mac Intyre, artist and internationally acclaimed photographer Chris Nash, choreographer Seán Curran and writer Liam O’Muirthile. Voted ‘best dance’ at sell-out engagements in the Dublin Theatre Festival 1996, 1994 and 1993, IMDT have performed in over thirty seven venues throughout Ireland including the National Theatre (Peacock Stage), Tivoli Theatre, Cork Opera House, RHA Gallagher Gallery and in festivals in the USA, France, the United Kingdom, Wales, Sweden, Bulgaria, Estonia and Turkey. In promoting dialogue with international choreographers, Artistic Director John Scott’s work is performed abroad more than that of any other Irish Dance Company.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Dance, Theatre,

ARTIST INTERVIEW: Allyson Keehan

September 1, 2008

ARTIST INTERVIEW: Allyson Keehan in conversation with Nicola Murphy in September 2008 about her residency in Draíocht's Artists Studio

”... but then one day, it all ties together and then I'm on the tiny details and then it just works! It's all very romantic really! And all the time that I'm painting, I'm thinking of the next piece and searching for objects and materials so I can have the next one ready as I finish one.”
Allyson Keehan, September 2008




Introduction & Artists Statement:
Born in Limerick (1978), Allyson's background in painting encompasses a lot of academic training; she studied architecture and also took part in an exchange to Athens School of Fine Art Greece. These strong influences encouraged her interest in classical painting and techniques, which in turn fuelled her academic and mathematical approaches to painting.

Allyson's practice is Still-Life painting. She works primarily in oils, working from a still-life set-up in her studio. Her obsessions in technique and materials lead her through continued investigations and observations of materials, objects and theories.
Allyson places importance on the formal structures of painting, often challenging composition thus further developing her painting language. The refined style of painting reflects the refined subject matter - elegant swathes of drapery and sensuous objects of varying textures and sizes.

The selection and placement of objects is carefully considered so that each painting has a different set of sensory experiences. Drapery takes over the picture landscape as objects are both revealed and enveloped between the folds. Colours and textures are luscious, luxurious, and sensuous - all reflecting the desirability to possess these objects and life-style. The composition of the objects show that they have been moved or used - a wine stain on the fabric or a cup left off its saucer. There is a trace of human presence and a memory of someone’s interaction with the objects.
Each object has a sentiment, and a reason for being in the painting. The paintings are recordings or documents of what’s considered fashionable or memorable of our time. In documenting the subjects in a realistic and detailed manner, Allyson is reiterating their importance and presenting them as cultural and social obsessions of our time; the materialistic and opulent desires of western culture.

Each painting brings another challenge - through composition, colour, textures, and conceptually. A narrative builds between each piece, getting more in-depth and informed as each piece is created and put on view. This approach is worthwhile as the visual language is decipherable and deters interference with the subtleties of the concepts. Each piece stands as an individual, as a mark of a memory, an interruption, a sentiment.
(Allyson Keehan 2008)


Allyson Keehan graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Limerick School of Art and Design in 2002 and a MA from the Byam Shaw College of Art, London in 2004. She has exhibited in London and recently in Newcastlewest Library, Limerick, and Monster Truck Gallery, Francis Street, Dublin 8. 

Allyson has been Artist in Residence in Draíocht since July 2008 and will stay until December 2008. Previously she was a member of Monster Truck Studios Dublin (2007-2008), and Contact Studios Limerick, (2005-2007).


Q: Tell us a little about yourself, your background, where you're from and where you live?

I'm originally from Limerick but live in Dublin. I did my Degree in Fine Art Painting at Limerick School of Art and Design, in 2002 and my Masters in Fine Art at Byam Shaw College of Art London, in 2004. But before all that I studied Architecture for a year in Kent Institute of Art and Design.



Q: When you were small, what did you want to be when you grew up? Were there any clues in your childhood that you would follow an artistic path later?

I think everyone knew that I was going to be an artist from a very early age. In my parents house, there's picture of a cat I did when I was about three; my grandfather said then that I was going to be an artist; nobody really thought of me as anything else from then! I also remember being asked to do loads of stuff in school; I always got to paint the advent calendars and Easter banners and other things like that!



Q: How long have you been an artist and why choose an arty profession over a more conventional career, like being an accountant, or working in an office for instance?

I've been painting full-time for the last four years, before that I would have always had a second job. I've been a Bartender, DJ, and Office Clerk - in a chicken factory! And any other odd job I could get - painting Christmas windows, helping with leaving cert projects ... When I was in school I did panic a bit and decided to do architecture. Even though I loved it and often think about it, I know that painting is what I'm meant to be doing.



Q: Perhaps you also have a conventional day job to supplement your income as an artist and if yes does this interfere with your creativity and focus?

When I left my last 'regular' job I gave myself two years to see if I could survive as an artist, so far I haven't looked back! I'm a big fan of the '5 year plan' so while I'm ahead of myself I know I'm not doing too badly.

I'm very dedicated to my work and its very time consuming so it's not possible to do other work as well. Occasionally, I do a little teaching, which is always good as it opens your eyes to whats current and whos coming into the art scene. And also, you always come away with a few good questions which you can ask about your own work, which forces me to think outside of what I'm doing in my studio.



Q: When did you create your first painting and what was your subject matter?

There are a few pieces that stick out. One is a still-life I did when I was 9 or 10 in Studio 55, an art class run by Thierry Rudin, And then there was a colour study I did in 1st year in college, the back of a male mannequin and boxes, from then I was hooked on oils.



Q: Has your style changed over the years and what might have influenced this change if yes?

My style has definitely progressed and developed, and over the years it has definitely got more refined. In the first few years in college I focused on architecture as my subject - so it was very linear but also more experimental, then by 4th year I changed to figurative subjects and predominantly Sports Men and voyeurism. So the style and technique became a bit more refined to reflect the more complex subject matter.

I think the subject influences the style and vice-versa, having the stillness of the still-life set up beside me makes me paint calmly and slowly, however when I was painting a moving figure it's quicker and less controllable, or when I'm painting from a photograph most of the decisions of composition, light, lines, are all made.



Q: Have you ever tried other art forms like photography, sculpting, making music, or dancing for instance?

For my MA I only finished one painting! I really pushed the concept of voyeurism so there was immediacy and urgency to the work, so drawing, photography and video were the best mediums to use. My final piece was a video installation. 

Currently, I photograph my paintings in fancily decorated rooms - like the Georgian House in Limerick - this adds another dimension to the painting, hopefully bringing the questions 'where does the piece end', and how the frame, wallpaper and surrounds add to the interpretation of the painting.



Q: What other artists or people have influenced or inspired you, and in what ways?

I think just being around artists in your studio group or exhibition openings or where ever, inspire you. Regularly artists and friends bring objects and material into me in the studio, followed by - ' I saw this and I thought you'd like it...' So all these things inspire what I'll do next and any particular themes or colours that progress the work.

I don't think I have one Artist that inspires me, it's just certain exhibitions or a work that will affect me differently at different times. Such as the Peter Doig exhibition held recently in the Tate. I was thinking a lot about scale at the time and his work really over whelmed me and inspired me at the right time.

Q: What is the thing you most enjoy about your work?

Painting. Everything about it. I love the beginning - drawing and mapping it out loosely in really diluted paint ... then each layer as it dries ... the middle is when I'm getting the tricky bits right and also is the most time consuming, but then one day, it all ties together and then I'm on the tiny details and then it just works! It's all very romantic really!

And all the time that I'm painting, I'm thinking of the next piece and searching for objects and materials so I can have the next one ready as I finish one.



Q: How do you keep motivated if you're having a bad day?

If I'm having a bad day, I leave the studio and go walk around the shops or wherever ... If I'm having a few bad days together then I'll go home for a few days, babysit my nephews and things like that. If I'm not painting well, then I need a complete break from it, otherwise I'd end up ruining the painting by forcing it.

Q: How have you handled the business side of being an artist, promoting yourself and getting exposure, selling your work etc?

The business side is very difficult. But gradually doing proposals and applications are getting easier. As my work progresses I know it better and believe in it more, so that makes it easier to promote it and stand by it.



Q: Could you tell us a little more about your residency in Draíocht's Artist Studio? How valuable is this time for you and are you working towards anything in particular?

The residency came at a really good time. It's a massive space which is allowing me to get a lot done. Ideas were banking up in my head so now that I have the space I can get through them and try a few different things and ultimately push the work more than I would have the opportunity to do so in a more confined space. There are huge benefits to doing the residency - not having to think about studio rent is the most obvious one, and also the publicity and exposure.

Q: Have you any exhibitions coming up?

I'm doing a show in Crecora National School in Limerick, 16th September- 11th October 2008. I'm also working on a couple of commissions and new work for a group show early in the New Year.



Q: Do you have any advice you could give to an artist just starting out?

Get into a studio group - it's really hard to work on your own, and the support from the studio is invaluable.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Painting in my Studio!

Q: What are your interests and hobbies outside of painting?

I love running, it keeps my posture good and helps clear my head from the painting fumes! I love going to gigs, definitely my favourite night out, and then the cinema. Also spending time with my friends and family. I like talking so I've a good network of really chatty people around me! And lastly the Phoenix Park and Portmarknock Beach, I love being out and about! 
 



To contact Allyson Keehan directly, please visit www.allysonkeehan.com


For media information please contact:
Nicola Murphy, Marketing Press & PR Manager, Draíocht
Tel: 01-8098021

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Allyson Keehan,

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