This month I am really looking forward to taking up residency at the National Museum of Ireland as Artist in Residence. It’s an incredible opportunity, and I am very honoured to have been invited. The idea of the residency is a gift of a period of dedicated time to immerse myself in the Museum collection, while having full access to the staff there that are experts in their subject, and from that immersion to draw inspiration to spearhead new work.
This is the first time that the National Museum of Ireland has offered a residency to an artist since it was established in 1877, so I am feeling very fortunate. I love the Museum and have used it for many years as a source of inspiration and archive. It's free to visit and I use it often. With a very diverse practice spanning almost 30 years now, the museum is a great tool for kickstarting new ideas, looking for forms or finding in-depth information about a subject. I’ve worked as a practicing artist since I graduated, choosing to work in glass as a material. Glass has so many qualities and eventualities unavailable in other materials, I am continually drawn to its alchemic properties. I get excited by light coming through windows, glass glinting in the sunshine or colours lighting up in a church and throwing its colour onto the floor. Light and shadow are constant obsessions. The magic of seeing molten glass being blown for the first time was how I got hooked on glass, and initially I worked as a glassblower in international studios, learning from other masters. I am also very interested in the history of making and how the skills I have acquired have been passed though various hands to reach me, and how I have passed those onto others.
The National Museum of Ireland is spread out over four sites. Three sites are in Dublin; Decorative Arts and History are in Collins Barracks, by the Liffey river and close to Phoenix park, Archaeology is in Kildare street near An Dáil, (the Irish Parliament) and Natural History is also near An Dáil & The National Gallery on Merrion square. The Museum of Country Life is in the west of Ireland in Mayo. The Museum purchased two of my glass pieces for the National Collection, some years ago. ‘Time Spent’ a clear engraved glass orb and ‘Lios na nÓg’ a thick coloured glass angular slab sculpture. Both can be seen at Collins Barracks.
I will be resident until January 2019 and will be based at the Museum for Decorative Arts and History at Collins Barracks, Dublin where I will have a large studio space. At this point I don’t have a set plan of what I will work on, I am interested in so many different aspects of the collection. Not having a plan means I am free to absorb and learn for the first few weeks. I intend to use all four sites to explore the collection, which will lead to developing ideas, experimenting and producing new work. It’s a little nerve wracking but I am ready and trust myself to know that I will be easily inspired and work will flow once I get settled. I am never afraid of not having enough ideas or sharing ideas with other people. I find it spurs creativity. It’s part of the joy of collaborations and working with other people. I often work in collaboration and find it brings me and whoever I collaborate with, in different directions or stretches me further than I would if I was working alone. I will be expanding on previous and new collaborations starting with music, art and sound in February.
Stimulating a cultural and intellectual exchange between other artists, museum staff, visitors to the museum, students and a wider outreach audience is one of my aims for the year. Opening the studio to visitors, and creating opportunities for meeting, sharing ideas and learning will be part of my work too. I will be active on social media to reach a wide international audience so follow me on twitter and Instagram, or sign up for the mail list, for upcoming events and developments. If you want to get in touch leave a comment below.
I will be involved in a number of outreach and in-house projects that can be found in the Museum programme. Sign up fast as they get booked out quickly. There will be lots of glass specific projects, workshops, symposiums, and an exhibition. It will be a busy year as all my normal work activities are also on going. That includes a National Play Garden for Dublin City Council ( a collaboration with design firm Elements of Action), an exhibition at the Ark Dublin in February, and work on a new Children’s hospital mid year.
Join me in the coming months of the year and discover the museum as I discover its hidden treasures. I have ALL the keys to the cupboards!