"I would advise other artists just starting out to persevere in applying for different things and not to be disheartened by the rejections which are sure to be many."
(Ciara Foster, May 2005)
ARTIST INTERVIEW: Ciara Foster / 31 May 2005
Ciara Foster took up the studio residency for six months in Draíocht from mid December 2004.
Ciara is a textile artist who specialises in embroidery and now works in a variety of media such as grass and straw sculpture, drawing and painting. In her sculptural work Ciara uses natural and recycled materials made in response to the environment and often abandons them to decompose back to their origins.
Foster graduated with a BA in Design specialising in textiles in 1998 and an MA in design specialising in textiles in 2003. She has exhibited widely including the Knit and Stitch show at the RDS 1996 and 2003, Sculpture and Context 2004 the MCAC open submission Textile Art Exhibition 2004. In June 2004 she spent a one-month residency at the Hall Farm Centre for Arts and Education in Vermont, US.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself, your background, where you're from?
A: I am originally from Clondalkin. I have always enjoyed Art and have been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. After I left school I spent a year in Ballyfermot Art College doing a portfolio preparation course in ‘Art, design and Craft’. This introduced me to new crafts such as tapestry, weaving and creative embroidery, the latter of which I had never even heard of before. I became really interested in texture and mixed media and with the idea of using unusual materials to create the surface I wanted.
After this I went to NCAD. The first year in NCAD was pretty much a continuation of what I had already been doing in Ballyfermot. After the first year I chose to specialise in textiles and in third year I narrowed my choice down to embroidered textiles. In the final year I decided to create textile art as opposed to designing textiles for either fashion or the textile industry, which were the other two avenues I could have taken.
After this I took about two years off, working and travelling but keeping visual journals all the time which allowed me to keep making art, if only for myself.
A year after I returned I decided to go back to NCAD where I did a full time MA in design.
Q: How long have you been a Textile Artist and why choose an arty profession over a more conventional career like being an accountant or working in an office for instance?
A: I guess I have been a textile artist since I left college although I took two years off straight after college to work and save money so that I could travel for the year. In the beginning I chose to do art because it was something I was good at and it was what I enjoyed the most. I was naïve in that I used to think that being good at art was all it took to make a career out of it. Some days I wish I had chosen a more conventional career just so that I wouldn’t have to worry about whether I am wasting a lot of energy and time on something I may never make a living from. However I know for a fact that I would never be happy in a more conventional job.
Q: Do you have a conventional job to supplement your income as an artist and if yes does it interfere with your creativity and focus?
A: Yes I do have a conventional job, I work in a bookstore. I have gone part time since I took up the residency at Draíocht. Sometimes I think working is good for me as you need to step back and take a look at your work so maybe being away from it for a few days helps a bit. On the downside I think I would have a lot more energy and my work would be better if I was able to donate more of my time completely to it, and of course I would get a lot more done. In college, we had a lot of different art projects going on at once and I loved this. If I was able to donate all of my time to art I think I would have a few things going on at once in the studio. When you have a conventional job this also forces you to keep conventional hours so no matter how creative you may be feeling you can’t stay up until 2am when you have an early start the next morning!
Q: What other people or artists have influenced or inspired you?
A: The main person who has inspired me would be my tutor from college, Nigel Chesney whose own work and energy is inspirational in itself. After that I am inspired by the people out there who are proving that you can make a successful living as an artist.
Lots of different artists have inspired me, some for only a short amount of time and others forever. I chop and change whom I like. Off the top of my head, of the very well known artists, I like Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, Basquiat and Andy Goldsworthy. Some of the lesser known ones would be Candy Jernigan, Sophie Ryder and Deborah Butterfield, but really I think that there are too many to mention.
Q: How do you keep motivated if you are having a bad day?
A: If something is not working out and I’m having a bad day, I take this as a sign that I just have to walk away and leave it for a while. I’ll usually do something totally unrelated, try and put it to the back of my mind so that I can come back to it with a fresh and hopefully more positive outlook.
Q: How have you handled the business side of being an artist, promoting yourself and getting exposure? Have you sold any of your work?
A: I wouldn’t say that I have handled the business side of being an artist very well. I think that it is something that takes a lot of your energy and time, so I’m inclined to ignore it a bit. I guess if I hadn’t got a conventional job I could devote more time to it. I have sold work very sporadically to say the least over the past few years. I certainly haven’t made any money.
Q: Have you had any Exhibitions?
A: I have never had a solo exhibition or in fact I have never applied anywhere to have a solo exhibition, but I have been in many group exhibitions.
Q: Could you tell us a little more about your time as Artist in Residence in Draíocht's Artists Studio? How valuable is this time for you and are you working towards anything in particular?
A: Having the studio in Draíocht has been great. It is a really good space. It takes a while to get used to the big glass window, but after a while you start to love the very fact that it feels so open and you forget that people can look in and see you. Having the studio was really good for me as it provided me with the huge amount of space I needed. It was really good to be able to leave the studio in a mess and pick up were I left off the next time I came back. With the work that I have made I have been applying for different exhibitions around the country.
Q: What advice would you give other artists just starting out?
A: I would advise other artists just starting out to persevere in applying for different things and not to be disheartened by the rejections which are sure to be many. I would also advise them to only apply for things that they really feel that their work is suited to.
Take a look at Ciara's website: http://www.freewebs.com/ciarafoster
Further information please contact: Nicola Murphy, Marketing Press & PR Manager, Draíocht / Tel: 8098021