"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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“Neddy McBride will be calling over tonight from up the country, [insert in hushed voice]Please God.” Please God is a common ending to many phrases here in Ireland and so I’ve been told, it has been for many, many generations. Ad infinitum. It basically just means with the help of God or for those like me who don’t fancy using such colloquialisms then “hopefully” fits the bill nicely as well.

Hopefully is a good word to describe how you get from A to B on Irish roads; namely the country roads.  Terrifyingly, nervously, horrifyingly, absolutely alertedly, shockingly, anything that sounds scary and ends in the letters “ly” as a matter of fact. First of all, as we know, these roads were not built for automobiles–and certainly not for two vehicles at all. They were roads built for carriages, rickshaws, tractors and legs. Now, of course, many new roads have been created over the years (many in the last 5 years alone), but I’d venture to guess that the stereotypical narrow country road is still what covers the most ground here in Ireland. Extremely charming, yes. The breathtaking, winding Ring of Kerry..the Lombard Street-y road down to the Dingle Peninsula (don’t do whilst in first trimester), venturing though the Wicklow mountains…in which the scenery is so gorgeous that it is essential to just meander and lose yourself in the magic of it all.

Still, day to day driving on these roads is definitely dangerous to your health. First of all, everyone drives a million miles an hour when you’d think that it might be safer to go slow because you never know when you will encounter another car and then inevitably have to stop and pull over into the hedge and let them pass or vice versa because two cars literally do not fit on the road together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly blacked-out in fear that I would be hit by a huge lorry (truck) because they generally will not stop to let you by. I also cannot tell you how many times I have just closed my eyes tight and stopped on the side of the road and when I reopened them the lorry had miraculously passed by and I was still alive, but completely shell-shocked.  On countless other occasions, I have somehow serendipitously squeezed by due to the unforeseen leeway of a driveway or a slightly wider shoulder and just barely made it though (yes, I suppose I have thought about the grace of God or some such entity having something to do with this…) I know this probably sounds really dramatic, but it is the truth.  To make matters worse, Richard has an odd habit of driving on the wrong side of the road at times (tell me again, why didn’t he move to the USA instead?) which I can’t understand and scares the living daylights out of me. It’s like a death wish as far as I am concerned. He thinks I overreact about it. Particularly when I start wailing and flailing like a baby that needs milk until he switches lanes. It doesn’t help that Geoffrey is giggling hysterically and having a blast in the back seat through it all.

I know I am a farmer’s wife, but tractors are such a nuisance on the roads. I do realize that they need to get from A to B too (and, ahem, home on time for supper with their families) but geeez do they have to get there whilst driving in front of me? The same goes for all the gigs that are out and about. It’s nearly impossible to overtake (pass) a tractor and the thought of spooking a horse pulling a cart on these roads is terrifying so you’re just stuck. For anywhere from 1-20 kilometers..or 1-30 minutes approximately. And that’s about when the crooning of John Denver comes into my head…..it never fails.

Take me home country roads…

Slainte,

Imen

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