Ireland: In America

04 Jun 2010

Beans-Irish Style

Well, here I am….I have arrived at my sweet home away from home. And I’m loving it. It’s day three so I am fully adjusted once again to driving on the right side of the road and getting into the opposite car door {okay, so that’s not entirely true}. It’s interesting because each time I return home I am far more aware of how much I am changing and just how much I appreciate the little things that I think Americans do best: incomparable customer service, eternal optimistic enthusiasm and, in a word, just plain“convenience”.

Back home in Ireland, I have *painstakingly* learned to do things on my own a bit more. It’s called “getting on with it” I’m told.  Let’s be clear, I do understand that this “getting on with it” business for me has more to do with living on a farm in the middle of the Irish countryside than it has to do with living in Ireland as a whole.  Still, some things like having your groceries lovingly bagged and delivered to your car for you at the supermarket or having an amazing gourmet pizza transported to your home via rocketship on any given night are things that can really put a smile on your face {and the children’s too}. It would appear that you can have anything you want at virtually any time of night and day here. I admit that found it a bit of a challenge not being able to have this citified life of convenience upon moving to Ireland, but now I realize that having to do more stuff on my own has instilled in me a certain amount of pride that I hadn’t really embraced before. Another plus? It makes things remarkably rosy when we are back for visits.

One of my favourite things to do when I first arrive back home is…drum roll please: Glorious food shopping! Whole Foods, the local co-ops, Trader Joe’s and Lunds/Byerly’s are my happy haunts here. I could giddily browse for hours and hours just examining all the new items and trying all the delicious samples. I am especially loving the locavore movement and being able to find so many fresh local ingredients everywhere. There is an importance placed upon this like never before and it is refreshing especially to “us farmers”.  Still, out of curiosity, I decided to take a look and see which, if any, authentic Irish exports I could find in stock.

I found these…

And these…

And then I was reminded that, at the end of the day, a nice cuppa can always put a smile on our faces too…..

Here or there.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

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"Big Nose"

I stumbled upon the remarkable Irish artist, Eoin O’Connor, via the Talent for Haiti auction organized by Irish designers Eilis Boyle and Helen James earlier this year. We placed a bid on one of his extraordinary pieces, which was {unluckily} not the winning offer. Ever since, we’ve been earnestly trying to plan an adventure to one of his galleries to meet him and see more of his work up close and personal. Of course, we particularly enjoy his distinctive farm animal paintings and will one day definitely add some of his work to our humble collection.

Eoin graciously agreed to share with us a little about himself and what inspires him.  I hope you enjoy this interview and his work as much as me.

Eoin, where are you from…describe what is was like growing up there…..and also where you live now if different….

I was born in Dublin, but moved to Cork when I was a young child. I lived in Monkstown in Cork Harbour. I had a great childhood, outdoors most of the time , played sports from dawn to dusk. Monkstown was a beautiful place. The sea and boats played a big part in my life.

After school I moved back to Dublin, I went To Bolton street to study architecture, which was a difficult course. I loved living in Dublin, a great experience for a young person, something happening all the time. I lived in Dublin for eleven years and moved to Aughrim in south Wicklow nine years ago. Aughrim is a beautiful village and it has recently won Ireland’s tidiest town which is a great achievement for such a small place. What I really love about it is the environs around it. Glenmalure, Aughavannagh, the Glen of Imaal and so on. The landscape in these places highly influences my paintings.

Did you have any formal training…how has your artistic career developed along the way?

No, I didn’t have formal training. I studied architecture and after that I decided my first love was art, so I started painting. Between 1997-2003, I started a business selling prints of my paintings to shops such as The Kilkenny store and Blarney Woollen Mills. The business was very successful, but it affected my work so I sold the business. In 2003, I developed a unique sculptural style of art which sold very well and was purchased by leading businessmen in Ireland. I then opened my own gallery in Aughrim. In 2004, I reached the end of the line with my sculptural art and started concentrating more on painting. I knew what I wanted in terms of colour and texture and so on, but my paintings have evolved with time. I am very fortunate that I have a distinct style which is kind of my signature. My paintings are quirky I suppose you could say.

I have had great success and have built up quite a few loyal fans, one customer in the USA has bought 18 paintings to date and also invited me to display my work at The Celtic ball in The Waldorf Astoria in New York. I also have a publishing deal with a fine art print company in Germany, They sell prints of four of my Cow paintings worldwide which is great exposure.

In 2009, I closed my gallery in Aughrim, although I still paint here in my studio. I opened a gallery called Artbox in Kinsale which sells my original work and a large selection of prints of my work. I also sell other artist’s work there.

I have exhibited in Waterford Tall Ships Exhibition, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Wexford Arts Festival, Greenacres Wexford, Fxb’s Dublin Marziart, Hamburg, Germany, Art Ireland, Gallery Number Nine in Birmingham and Marine House Beere in Devon, England

What influences you?

The everyday surroundings, the landscape, people, animals and so on. I love colour and playing with perspective. I suppose I also like humour which gives a quirky slant to my paintings

Who or what inspires you to be creative?

Luckily it seems to be built-in me to be creative. If I haven’t painted for a while I feel an uncontrollable urge to do so! Looking at work of great artists, Picasso, Matisse…… all forms of art

How do you feel about the importance of farms/farming/farmers…locally sourced foods….slow-food/locavore movement?

I love food and where I live I am fortunate to have a friend, Alan Pierce, who produces beautiful seasonal organic vegetables (Gold River Farm) which we use all the time and also up the road, The Brooklodge Hotel, serves all organic food and is truly scrumptious! They are hoping to hold a Slow food festival in 2011

What are you favorite places in Ireland?

I love Kenmare and try to stay there as often as possible. It’s a great place as you can do the Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park and my favourite, The Beara Peninsula, easily from there. Derreen house on the Beara Peninsula is a hidden gem-it’s garden is like a tropical wonderland

Do you have any upcoming shows/events?

I have a solo exhibition for the Wicklow Arts Festival coming up on the 30th of May in Tinnakilly House, Rathnew, Wicklow. I have been working hard on it for the last few months and I’m really looking forward to it! My gallery in Kinsale is open all year round, showing my original work and a large range of prints both framed and unframed. I am also opening a new gallery in The Marine Hotel in Glandore, West Cork called Artbox Glandore (for the summer months).

You can call into Eoin’s Artbox galleries at 13 Main Street, Kinsale, County Cork, Phone: +353 (0) 214773504  or at The Marine Hotel, The Pier, Glandore, West Cork, Phone: +353 (0)28 33366 or see his work online at www.eoinoconnor.com

Tomorrow I am venturing off the do a little roving reporting at the Irish Food Bloggers event in Dublin hosted by Donal Skehan and Bord Bia. Can’t wait to meet all the amazing foodies here and get some great insider tips on food photography and writing from the best in Ireland!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

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