Artist of the Week: Mixed Media Artist Eimear Kavanagh

Eimear Kavanagh, along with art group Re-View Textile will exhibit as part of the Independents Liverpool Biennial this summer. Art in Liverpool chatted with Eimear to find out more.

When did your interest in art begin?

My mum said I was 3 years old when I started creating art and I was easily occupied throughout my childhood, finding small spaces to hide and draw for hours on end. To this day, not much has changed! Except for those times when adulthood brings responsibilities and complexities which can distract me from my art. If for whatever reason I’m pulled away, return is inevitable. My art practice is a necessity; without it I start to feel a kind of spiritual deadness.

What have been your influences & how have you progressed with your art?

I remember Wednesdays being my favourite day at school. Studying tribe’s people of the Amazon Jungle in geography class, I would slip into dreamland adventure of nature and discovery. This distraction of faraway lands sharpened observation of how others live and the freshness of this unfamiliarity sparked inspiration. So I began to explore the world, as soon as I could. Anytime I was home in the UK I focussed on working to save money to go away again. This transitional phase enriched all my inspirations. The last few trips to India were a turning point for me. My fascination with Indian culture then fuelled my artwork for more than a decade. Finally I started to settle more at home in the UK, creating a studio for the space and time needed to ‘be’ an artist.

In 2007 I was invited by The Nehru Centre, the Indian Embassy in Mayfair, London to debut a solo exhibition – a big opportunity for a first show!

Following this, I relocated from London to Liverpool. People often ask me, ‘Why did you move here?’ well, I don’t know really, I just did! All I know is that I really like what I found here, and love where I am. Why am I recently painting owls and foxes? That, I don’t know either! Nor can I really explain the sort of hidden messages within my work as they might just mean something to me only and that significance which comes from a more personal place or on a subconscious level. I suppose now I feel more guided by what I see or feel on a day to day basis, my art becomes almost like another way of keeping a diary.

unnamed-2Describe the method in which you work, the materials and techniques you use.

My background is in textile design; I graduated in 1998 from Bretton Hall University of Leeds and it was here that I learnt about a wide variety of techniques and materials. We played a lot with layering, tissue paper and bleach, transparent and opaque effects, repeat patterns, and all sorts of paints – in fact almost everything you can find in a craft shop. Sometimes I come across old pieces of work and cannot figure out how it was made, or have been asked to reproduce something but I will never get it the same. Much of these techniques are spontaneous or even accidental.

Often when I start a painting I have an idea of how I want it to look but during the design process the outcome changes. At some point the painting starts to have a life of its own and then it begins to dictate to me what to do next – rather than the other way round.

What is it like to be an artist?

 

When I am in the flow of creating art, all else seems trivial or mundane to me.  I don’t have the luxury of painting all day every day, my time is usually divided up between marketing my work, searching for opportunities and various other chores which sometimes feels like a fight against time.

Art (as a career) might be considered an unreliable or risky choice, due to its difficulty in finding work; however, unpredictability isn’t always a negative thing. I love that every month is different, that each project brings new challenges and pushes boundaries, and that I have no idea what next year holds for me. Once a friend asked me, ‘So, what’s your plan then?’ I replied ‘What do you mean?’ he said ‘You know, in life, what’s your plan?’ He was met with stunned, confused, silence.

Being an artist means many things for me; it is both a luxury and a necessity, it can be blissful and it can be tough. It is a form of communication, something not just seen, but felt. It is freedom to express. I was very fortunate that in my upbringing I was allowed this freedom and was never discouraged in heading towards the instability or the uncertainty of the road less travelled.

unnamed-4What are you working on at the moment?

This year I have completed a CD album cover design for Dublin based band The Roj Light. I am currently working on several new pieces of work for an exhibition in July and preparing to start a series of public murals in the high street, commissioned by Wirral Festival of Firsts.

Inspired by John O’Donohue’s book Anam Cara I will be going back to my roots in Ireland during late autumn. It has been a few years since I have taken this kind of time out to focus solely (soulfully) on my art. O’Donohue traces the cycles of life and nature and draws from the holy waters of Ireland’s spiritual heritage. And I intend to do exactly the same (in a more visual sense) and hope to be fed lots of home-made bread by the folk along the way.

Eimear’s work is housed in many private collections in both the UK and Internationally. She continues to seek commissions, collaborations and exhibition opportunities.

Her latest work explores the energy movement within and outside the human body and faceted crystal quartz. These will feature in the ‘Drawing the Line’ exhibition with artists collective Re-View Textile. This runs alongside the opening of the Biennial 2014, at Liverpool Academy of Arts on Seel Street, from 5 – 18 July (Open Tues-Sat, 12.00 – 16.00)

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See more at www.eimear-art.co.uk