ITB’s Ashling Smith Wins Draíocht’s Inaugural Creative Digital Media Graduate Award 2018

June 15, 2018

We are delighted to announce Draíocht’s Inaugural Creative Digital Media Graduate Award Winner, in association with the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB), is Ashling Smith with her piece VISION.

The Creative Digital Media Graduate Award 2018 was open to this year’s graduating students from the Creative Digital Media degree programme at ITB and was selected by Fiach MacConghail , CEO Digital Hub Development Agency, on behalf of Draíocht following a short-listing process.

In taking his decision Fiach MacConghail described the field as strong and competitive with rich and varied work and he found the decision a difficult one. He considered the quality of the work, the ideas and interests of the students and how Draíocht's resources could best support the graduate in the development of their emerging practice.
He said of the recipient: "I am selecting this graduate - Ashling Smith - because of the sculptural and painterly quality of the work, it’s immersive multi media form which integrates sound, image and text. It is ultimately a considered work blending creativity and art. The artistic intention of the piece  highlights the vulnerability and joy of making art." Fiach MacConghail

On announcing the award Emer McGowan, Draíocht’s Executive Director said:
"Draíocht is delighted to be working with the Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown to provide this exciting opportunity for a Graduate Student. Our Strategy 2018 – 2022 ‘Inspiring A Passion for the Arts’ highlights our commitment to building partnerships and to supporting the work of emerging practitioners.This new award demonstrates Draíocht’s commitment to these priorities." Emer McGowan

Hugh McCabe, Course Coordinator, Creative Digital Media, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB) said:
"Working with Draíocht on this award is a fantastic means of further developing the sorts of synergies between art, design and technology that are at the heart of the Creative Digital Media programme at ITB. We are delighted that the opportunity to collaborate with Draíocht is being offered to one of our students and look forward to seeing the results." Hugh McCabe


Draíocht’s Marketing Department caught up with Ashling to find out more about her and her work!


Artist: Ashling Smith
ANDRES POVEDA PHOTOGRAPHY


Q: Tell us a little about yourself, your background, where you’re from and where you live?
I am originally from Dublin. I moved down to Wexford when I was 10 and come from a family of 5 siblings, 2 brothers and 3 sisters. I am the second oldest and the oldest girl. School was always difficult for me, but I did love art class. I could work on stuff for hours in art and felt comfortable in what I was doing. Irish Dancing was something that I did from the age of 4, I loved dancing and eventually put the shoes away when I was 15 or 16 as I wanted to concentrate on my Art Portfolio. I attended an art portfolio course in Killester College and eventually went on to Stillorgan College and that’s where I first learned digital media. I got a quick grasp on web and graphic design and decided that this is what I wanted to do. I ended up in Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB) studying Creative Digital Media, where I studied a wide range of things such as Film Making, Photography, Web Design and Graphic Design. While in college to get better at Web design and branding I worked with clients for free to build up a portfolio and recognition. After a while I decided to set myself up as a freelancer and eventually got a few jobs while studying in college. All these skills that have become an important asset in my personal and professional work. I have just recently graduated from ITB this May with a First-Class Honours.
 


Artist Ashling Smith & Emer McGowan, Director Draíocht
ANDRES POVEDA PHOTOGRAPHY​


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 loved to be creative from a young age and storytelling was always something I enjoyed. I think I tended to have an overactive imagination as a child, so to write that all down or draw pictures of characters was always a great kick for me. I remember my nanny buying myself and siblings rolls of paper to colour on, I could sit there for hours and colour away, I was always given paints, paper, crayons and colouring pencils for birthdays and Christmas, so I think that prompted me to colour. and be artistic.


Hugh McCabe, Course Coordinator, Creative Digital Media ITB,
​Artist Ashling Smith & Emer McGowan, Director Draíocht.
ANDRES POVEDA PHOTOGRAPHY


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 started off in a course in Killester, after I left school to create an art portfolio to go into animation. I also took life drawing classes to get a better at drawing the human form. I was 17 at the time and quite shy in expressing my art as I haven’t yet developed the confidence and hid most of my work prior. I did not get great encouragement from tutors in my Art Portfolio course and I began to give up. Following that I did not get into the animation course that year, but I decided to try again and ended up in Stillorgan College, I still had the idea to pursue animation and began my portfolio again. This time the course was digital based and a new world to me. I quickly got into the Web Design and Graphic Design, but still wanted animation. I had loads of professionals in the industry telling me that I had great design skills that were much stronger than my skills for animation. When presenting my animation portfolio for interviews I was told I had great experimental work and design skills and should pursue them more. After the second time not getting into an animation course, I decided that I should go about design and luckily that’s how I got into ITB studying Creative Digital Media. I now have a degree in Creative Digital Media. All these little life lessons through those years were able to set me up to work in a professional manner. My final year project set me up to use my skills of my artist background and digital media background and combine them to create something I didn’t think I would be ever able to do, and I’m so grateful for the lecturers in ITB and encouragement from them to make that possible. It's always great to be surrounded by positivity. I always thought I would end up doing something that involved being creative, it’s the only way I function.

Q: Perhaps you also have a conventional day job to supplement your income as an artist?
My day job is still creative, I design Websites for clients and design their brand, as well as look into their online presence such as social media accounts. It great when I have a client who trusts me to lead their brand and reach out to their audience. Other times there would be approval from the client before publishing, but everyone is different in how this process works. Its is nice to have a day job that is also creative.



Ashling Smith, VISON

Q: When did you create your first piece and what was your subject matter?
My first digital piece that I created was my first website from a Web Design course I took. Pretty sure its still out there online somewhere I used a free hosting and domain space. It was a portfolio website to show my work. I laugh looking back at it because I used an awful font that designers would shame me for (think it was comic sans if I remember), and too many colours. But I like to look back at work I did from years ago and see how far I have come today in my skills.
 

Q: Do you have a distinctive style? 
I don’t like to think of myself as having a distinctive style, as I see my personal work that I do as experimental. Comments made about my work is that its very colourful, which I never took note of until it was said to me. I do like to be colourful with my work as I love colours. I find them so expressive and they can tell so much in a story. In terms of my work with graphic design and web, my style would be more clean and simple, I don’t like overcrowding the space and like to keep focus on the main content that needs to be seen.

Q: Have you ever tried other art forms like photography, sculpting, making music for instance?
Photography is something that I love experimenting with, especially when it comes to long exposure shots. I would go out into the city and take long exposure shots of the city lights. I also find any type of lights around the house and move them around the camera to capture the lights, I find this so interesting to do.


Ashling Smith, Dancing Lights 2017 (Long exposure photography)

Q: What is the thing you most enjoy about your work?
The experimenting is something I enjoy, I don’t know what the end result is going to be when I start projects like this and it suits me so well to work that way.

Q: How do you keep motivated if you’re having a bad day?
If I am having a bad day and getting frustrated, I would typically just walk away for an hour or two and take myself away from the space I am working in. I find that if you are outside the space you're working in, you can relax more and see what is causing the bad day. When I feel ready I will go back and continue my work. I try not to pressure myself, because if I’m not feeling the motivation I will not get anything done.
 

Q: How do you feel about the business side of being an artist, promoting yourself and getting exposure? 
This is something I am currently working on I have just finished college, so this side is all so new to me, but I am hoping over the next few months I will improve on this. I do however have an Instagram that I set up and recently a Facebook page.

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?
I am delighted to have been awarded with Draíocht’s Inaugral Creative Digital Media Graduate Award for my Final Year Project Vision. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Draíocht and have my exhibition displayed at PLATFORM 2019. I will be having a 6 weeks residency with Draíocht and my exhibition, with 2 other artists, will be on for 12 weeks. I am really excited for this opportunity and have a year to decide on what I like. Ideas that I have will be a similar theme to my installation piece Vision. I will use the 6 weeks in Draíocht to build the Installation and set it up and before that will prepare content I feel work best for me. Now I am scoping out ideas and can’t say for sure what I will have for next year, but I am excited to explore that.

Q: Do you have any advice you could give to other young artists just starting out? 
I am just starting out myself and still figuring it all out. But what I would say to any creative out there is to always be yourself in your work and never compare yourself - the whole point of being creative is expressing your own work.


WATCH ASHLING'S WINNING PIECE, VISION:
Vision is an audio-visual Installation representing artists and celebrating creativity, through visuals and sound-based media. The project is achieved through projection mapping and a five-piece structure. It is based on the voices of anonymous creatives with different backgrounds sharing their stories on what creativity means to them.

Live version:       https://vimeo.com/274941472
The Making of Vision:     https://vimeo.com/269284586



 

Draíocht’s Creative Digital Media Graduate Award offers the winning graduate:
- A six week residency in Draíocht Studio (Summer 2019) and a sum of €300 expenses
- The opportunity to exhibit new work as part of PLATFORM 2019 (Summer 2019)
- Mentored, supportive environment. 
Further information: marketing@draiocht.ie
 

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By Draíocht. Tags: Reviews & Interviews, Visual Arts, Visual Arts Opportunities, Ashling Smith, Hugh McCabe, Sharon Murphy,

Des Kenny Reviews Lost State – Hugh McCabe and Suzanne Walsh

November 10, 2017

5.11.17
Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews 'Lost State' by Hugh McCabe & Suzanne Walsh ...

Lost State is collaborative exhibition by Hugh McCabe and Suzanne Walsh and is situated in the First Floor Gallery in Draíocht. Their joint endeavour explores how relics of the past become artefacts in a distant future and what we hold as a great advancement in our present culture is seen as a curious case study by archaeologists trying to understand a forlorn lost history. The combination of digital photographs and video imagery by Hugh McCabe with a sound installation by Suzanne Walsh weaves an afflicted narrative that examines a mournful fracture on a technological society which disappeared after an unnamed catastrophe.

A Three tier video screen display unveils a sequence of swaying searchlight probes across a surface that appears from a distance to be an industrial complex. On closer examination the circuitry of a computer mother board becomes evident as the light uncovers the form from the shadows. The beam of revelatory light moves slowly across the surface, penetrating the darkness releasing its secrets from the gloom. The pools of light are unable to withstand the encroaching shapeless twilight as the screen is engulfed by an impenetrable formless dark, as the screen momentarily switches off. The screens become blank in an alternate sequential fashion as if ordained by the dialogue of Suzanne Walsh’s sound installation emanating from a speaker positioned on the gallery ceiling. The light on the monitors appear to follow Suzanne’s voice as it glides across the circuit boards, affixing the random movement of the searchlights with the semblance of a meaningful context. Echoing from the speaker is the pulsating rhythm of the wind as it lifts words like fallen leaves and tosses them around the gallery. Spasmodic phrases have urgency when repeated, demanding the visitor to decipher its implication. The recurrent term “it must have been” from the imploring narrator creates an atmosphere of foreboding since its incantation has no recognisable foundation.

At times the narration eases into descriptive passages, such as “E724 had hair line cracks” and “the marks never open” that appear to address the formal qualities of the materials under observation. Inexplicably a question seeps from the speaker inquiring “is there a threat” without defining the danger. The layers of interpretation within the dialogue, creates an open portal for the visitors imagination to explore.

Black and white digital photographs of computer parts hang starkly upon the walls of the upper gallery space. The clinical white border surrounding the images deepens the grainy intensity of the subject matter as the edges blur and slip into the hooded shadows. Dust particles gather obscuring numbers and letters, presenting a mood of decay and degeneration. They are obsolete components from a previous generation and culture and their fragmented nature prevents restoration. A tempered mood of loss prevails as the remnant parts are recast as relics of a nostalgic history that remains irretrievable.  All the while the disembodied voice of the narrator follows the viewer around the gallery alluding to societies past fate that remains trapped and locked in the hardware. She implores sadly “only remember what can be taken” but is unable to breach the silence from the inane computer parts.

The two diverse artistic disciplines of Suzanne Walsh and Hugh McCabe, combine to create a visionary account of a future beyond our digital age, that mourns its tragic demise. The seeds of this future history are taking root in the cracks of today’s environment.

 

Lost State – Hugh McCabe and Suzanne Walsh
Thu 19 Oct – Sat 04 Nov 2017 
First Floor Gallery, Draíocht Blanchardstown
http://www.draiocht.ie/visual_arts

 

Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Hugh McCabe, Suzanne Walsh,