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