Conor

How to be friends with an artist?

You might have asked you several times how to start being friends with people in creative industries or even better, becoming a pal of someone who actually works as an artist. I do not want to be rude, but no, that is not how you make friends. Since working at a museum which includes a residency program I was lucky enough to organize monthly get-togethers with artists from all over the world in different genres (architecture, music, visual art, literature). Through the AIR Artist In Residence program I have met around fifty artists in the last two years who I got a long with well, did not have a chance to talk any further or who just passed by my time schedule.

Conor O’Grady

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I met Conor through the residency program in November 2017. We only had very little time because he stayed for one month only, it was Christmas time and we were both really busy. From what I have observed back then was, that Conor watches and analyses his surroundings very thoroughly. He as a great sense of observation, is sensitive and interested in topics others would describe as taboo. In his daily practice observation is a relevant, if not the most important part,

“For me the art has to be a catalyst for other things, and the work you make has to be a catalyst for debate or discussion, something further. My real drive when I’m making work is to deal with themes like sexism, homophobia, otherness, and being able to describe how otherness – anything but the norm – feels …” Mayo News, 2015

You always meet twice…

I was delighted when I contacted Conor to meet up again in Ireland. I visited his studio where we talked about current issues like the Repeal the 8th referendum as well as the conflict with Northern Ireland in connection with his current home base in County Donegal.

Observing others in their otherness with sensitivity and calmness is probably what amazed me the most. We took the chance and went to visit several places in Donegal. Letterkenny was probably the most striking ones. As if you could feel the tension between two magnetic poles. Interestingly the Donegal Regional Cultural Centre hosts a variety of art exhibitions, focusing on photography, in a somewhat stunning architecture. The building is designed by local architects MacGabhann which shows how broad the Northern parts of the republic of Ireland are. What I liked the most about it was that Conor and I got a chance to see the already closed exhibition about the border.

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What is up there? A lot of information about the people who live here or have something to say… © Lucie Taeubler

Wherever I went with Conor, he was looking for traces of humans on walls, streets, cobblestones or bridges. Stickers, graffiti, street art or other material coming from passing by human beings. He even found a conversation between two teenagers in a playground slide (at least he assumed so). Now, Conor has not only opened my eyes to look at trashy stuff on walls – tags or badges – he inhabits outdoor spaces himself through interventions. I am really looking forward to his exhibition with the Westport Custom House Studios and more to come.

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I found this treasure in Cork. © Lucie Taeubler

Follow Conor’s blog to learn more about his stories, thoughts and beautiful captures of reality.

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Lynn

You find yourself on roads which seem to lead nowhere. From Dublin it takes you approximately 1,5h. Going off the motorway, following the road which leads you to Killea, near Rosscrea. I am looking for Lynn Kirkham, artist and traveler, woman in her fifties who decided to move to a little barn, in Tipperary.

Sorry, do you know where Lynn lives, the basket-lady?

Looking at my friend’s description of how to get to Lynn’s studio in the middle of nowhere, I had to stop downtown Killea. Which consists of a primary school, a church, a pub and a cemetery. Fortunately, the pub owner was there to lead me the way – third left after the church, up the first hill, then left again after a mile and it is right there. I got lost, still. After backing out of a cattle farm, I instantly had to get out of the car to enjoy the view. It was raining, but clearing up after just two minutes. I inhaled fresh autumn air. When I found myself at Lynn’s place – called Greenmantle – I was fascinated how wisely she restored her little home: Seeds and dried flowers, a green house for fruit and vegetables on her patio. Bringing her horses to Greenmantle meant she needed land. Bringing her art meant she needed a studio.

 

Lynn is a tall, skinny but strong woman. I remember her wearing working clothes, wellies and a hoodie to cover from the cold. She has a friendly smile, always in thoughts and seemingly happy about what she has achieved already. Proud to be an artist, to know a lot of people around Ireland and the world, and most impressively: being a very generous and flexible host for foreigners (and family) in her house. Volunteers come and go, working at the house, making breakfast and sorting out little things for Lynn. Also, volunteers are working in her studio to help with commissioned public art.

Massive, but fine lined creatures are part of her work. Lynn uses steal constructions to build skeletons for her sculptures which usually depict animals. I have passed some of her work regularly, at the roundabout in Newbridge, Co. Kildare or the Irish National Stud in Kildare Town. Horses. We can only put together a few pieces at a time. We construct them onto their skeleton and take them off again to work on the wood Sabrina her current volunteer tells me with awe. Look, what she made! She is such a great support pointing at man sized woven sculpture, Lynn smiles at Sabrina and me. I can feel how grateful she is about her apprentice and the useful help. The type of wood Lynn uses has been found somewhere, at rivers, in the forests. It is of charming shapes, seems to be kind of magical, stored outside of the studio. People bring it, they call her and offer it, or she collects it from wherever it happens to be.

The very particular about meeting Lynn was to talk about her traveling and writing it down to publish a book next year. Taking her horses out into an Irish summer, barely raining, and traveling with them from East to South, up North. She met friends, made long lost contacts and stayed with herself, in a tent. I experienced Lynn to be a down-to-earth person. She helps and supports people and ecology.

My aim is to make accessible and meaningful artworks, especially site specific; public art and community projects with an emphasis on creative development and upholding traditional skills. I grow, harvest & process natural raw materials and often use reclaimed and recycled resources.

Sometimes you find yourself on the road to nowhere. But you are somewhere and you go there to experience the new.

How to find Lynn:

  • You have to go there by car but of course there is always the possibility to share a ride too.
  • Lynn Kirkham, Greenmantle Bohernarudda, Killea,
    Co. Tipperary, Ireland
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