Note: this body of work was first shown at The Paul Kane Gallery in Dublin in 2011 with the initial exhibition title: “We are where we are”. It was then shown in various art spaces around Ireland between 2012 and 2014. In the Bourn Vincent Gallery (University of Limerick), it was entitled: “Home” and later on, the title was “Dídean/ Home” in Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, Belfast, in the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Port Laoise and in Belltable, Limerick.
It was featured on the TV arts programme “Imeall” (on TG4). To view, click here
The title of this exhibition is “Dídean/ Home” and it consists of paintings and installations exploring the human dimension to the economic crisis and looking at notions of “home”. In recent years much has been written about ghost estates, empty hotels and tenantless apartment blocks, at one time an estimated 300,000 units vacant or unfinished, but at the same time we read about the growing problem of homelessness in our country. My work engages with contradictions such as these but, whilst the subject matter may be tough and the questions raised uncomfortable, my primary intention is to make art that moves people.
So I collect images from newspapers, magazines and the internet to find the subjects for my artworks. I am particularly interested in images of ordinary people in situations of conflict or crisis. It is all too easy to become inured to the individual stories that lie behind any of these images, but by choosing one and making it the subject of a large painting, for instance, I try to emphasize the importance of that human story and, in a way, to subvert the notion of the “15 minutes of fame”. I am interested in exploring how art may produce a deeper and more enduring understanding of the contemporary experience than do media images.
From a formal point of view I became interested in using discarded material in my artwork – cardboard, newspaper, paper coffee cups etc. I thought that it fitted well with the themes I was exploring. The empty coffee cups became a symbol for me of the “Boom and Bust”. During the era of the Celtic Tiger, it seemed like everyone was in a hurry – in a hurry to get to work, in a hurry to make money, in a hurry to build. No time to stop and chat, a quick coffee on the go, Skinny Lattes, Cappucinos, Caffé Mochas – madness – and then at the end of the day, the poor man on the street was using the empty cup to beg for help.
In the end, making art is a mysterious occupation. Working alone in the studio, I paint, I make things, I try out ideas, sometimes my mistakes inspire new directions and new work… to borrow a quote from the late Tony O’Malley:
“you work at it day after day and then suddenly, something happens, a revelation”. That’s how it is.
“We are where we are” at The Paul Kane Gallery, Dublin
This was the first iteration of the “Dídean/ Home” body of work. To view a one minute video, an overview of this exhibition, click here
Home at the Bourn Vincent Gallery, University of Limerick
To read a review of the exhibition by Cristín Leach (in the Sunday Times), click here
Dídean/ Home in Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, Belfast
Tá scannán ghearr faoin taispeántas seo ar an suíomh idirlíona “Meon eile”
Click on the link above to see a short interview with me about the show.
The art critic Niall MacMonagle also featured this exhibition. See below…
Dídean/ Home in the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Port Laoise
In 2014, I showed a further iteration of the exhibition in the Dunamaise Arts Centre in Port Laoise and the guest speaker was Alice Leahy. You can read more about this event here.
Most of the works from this exhibition can be seen above. Below, you can see a short video which gives an overview of the exhibition at the Dunamaise Arts Centre. As you will see, I was able to include a smaller version of “Celtic Towers”, the installation of used coffee cups in this space.
Afterwards, I was invited to bring the exhibition to Belltable in Limerick, later the same year.
Dídean/ Home at Belltable, Limerick
I always enjoyed designing a new iteration of the exhibition to suit each new venue. Belltable was going through some financial difficulties at this time so officially, this was an exhibition at No.69 O’Connell Street Limerick. It made no difference to me, but I was particularly happy with this version of the exhibition.
There’s a short video of it below but first I’d like to highlight the drawings on cardboard that I always included in the exhibition.
I usually stuck them in a corner somewhere, a sort of awkward collection of black marker drawings. If you were an artist that happened to end up on the street, would you sit there all day or would you start drawing what you saw around you? Would the drawings in some way transport you away from your present unfortunate situation? Would you begin to draw your friends…
… and finally, the short video of the installation at No.69 O’Connell Street, Limerick. Slán go fóill.