Eithne Jordan – visual artist

Eithne Jordan

Eithne Jordan is an Irish artist who has worked for over four decades, producing work that hums with understated intensity and poise.

She divides her time between France and Ireland, having also lived and worked in Germany. She has exhibited widely in Europe, and is a member of Aosdana and the RHA.  Her work is in major public and private collections in Ireland, Europe and the U.S.

In conversation with Beth for Sonnets and Dirty Dishes, Eithne talks about the complexity and nuance of being an artist and a mother, and how, though moving around a lot in her life, she has always ensured she has a studio space. She says: “The discipline and routine of going in to your workspace every day is fifty percent of being an artist.”

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Holly Pereira – artist, muralist and illustrator

Holly Pereira (photograph by Ruth Medjber)

Holly Pereira is an artist, muralist and illustrator based in Dublin, Ireland.

If you are in Ireland you have probably met some of her work in the wild – colour drenched murals with the power to transform a miserable rainy streetscape. Holly’s work is playful, humorous, welcoming the viewer in; and it is often political. Pictures of her ‘Repeal’ mural were widely shared in 2018, making it an iconic image of the successful campaign for women’s rights to bodily autonomy. A mural in Dublin 4 reads ‘Welcome to Dublin – home of hotels, high rents and homelessness.’ And the absolutely gorgeous 2019 ‘Spinster’ mural lovingly reclaims and makes beautiful a word traditionally used to belittle.

Continue reading “Holly Pereira – artist, muralist and illustrator”

Maggie O’Dwyer – poet and artist

Maggie O’Dwyer

Maggie O’Dwyer is a poet and artist, living and working in Dublin. She has published three books of poetry, and her collection Laughter Heard from the Road was shortlisted in 2010 for the Rupert and Eithne Strong Award for Best First Collection.

There is an arresting freshness and immediacy to Maggie’s poetry. Often as saturated in colour as her visual art, the poems draw on clear eyed wisdom to bring the reader into intimate moments of time, space, and relationship.

Since she graduated from art college in 1974, her work has been exhibited widely, including at the RHA exhibitions.

In conversation with Beth for Sonnets and Dirty Dishes, Maggie talks about the role of trust in her life and work, and tells us – “I don’t question why I write or paint, I just do it.”

Continue reading “Maggie O’Dwyer – poet and artist”

Sarah Walker – artist and gallery owner

Sarah Walker – visual artist + gallery owner

Sarah Walker is an artist and owner of the Sarah Walker Gallery in Castletownbere in West Cork, Ireland. Born in Dublin, Sarah has lived and worked in West Cork since 1990. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, with regular solo shows in Cork and Dublin over the course of her career.

In conversation with Beth for Sonnets and Dirty Dishes, Sarah shares the no-nonsense attitude to creativity that has kept her level headed and busy in a career that spans three decades and counting.

BEGINNINGS:

In this section we ask artists to talk about what started them down the road they are on – how did it begin? On Sonnets and Dirty Dishes, we want to explore what motivated people to take the leap from dreaming, to doing. We ask: Can you tell us what drives you to do what you do?

Sarah: “It was really easy for me to decide what to do. I went straight from school to art college at sixteen and when I finished college I went to live in Japan for a couple of years. I exhibited there and did an artist’s residency. Very shortly after returning I was offered a solo show in Dublin. I got state support until I was paid for the sales from that show and from then on I was pretty much able to support myself and my family from my work.

I’ve always treated it like a full time job, never in any other way. And like any job, it involves a lot of admin work. It’s not just about creativity. I’ve always done the admin work necessary to be able to sell. Setting up the gallery was part of that; it helped me to survive through the last recession. I had been dying to create a space like the gallery. I suppose that’s the architecture background coming out – I’ve always been interested in spaces.*  Building the gallery cost me a lot of money too though – but I’m able to make enough that it has made sense. I work really hard; but then– don’t most people work really hard at their jobs?

*Sarah’s father was renowned Irish architect Robin Walker.

Sarah Walker Gallery in Castletownbere, Co. Cork, Ireland.
Sarah’s gallery interior

PRACTICALITIES:

In this section we ask artists to talk about their workspaces, tools, and resources they need. We ask what their work day looks like. We also ask them to respond personally to the Sylvia Plath quote that gives this project its title: ‘I would live a life of conflict, of juggling children, sonnets, love and dirty dishes.’

Bothar Bui is a very unusual house that my father designed in 1970, which is divided up between six buildings in a mix of traditional and contemporary styles. It’s on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork, and my family used it during school holidays. For the rest of the year they would invite artists to work there. Michael Mulcahy worked there for a number of winters, and Eilis O’Connell, and a number of other artists. One of the buildings we always called the studio, although it was mainly used as a living room.

Bohar Bui

Thirty years ago, after my father died, I moved to Bothar Bui with my boyfriend at the time, intending to stay a couple months. I basically never left. I lived in the house for ten years and worked in the studio. So that was a pretty good start to have; the studio in Bothar Bui.

Now my studio is in my gallery in Castletownbere. I love my studio, and I love the times when the gallery is quiet or closed and I have the place to myself. The studio is separate from the public space of the gallery, but still it can be disruptive. I invite clients into the studio occasionally but mostly I try hard to keep it to myself, that’s not always possible with the music events etc that go on in the gallery. I have made adjustments and put measures in place, like the bar area, and creating a space for storing the equipment needed for the gigs, and that has helped to keep my space to myself. I’m not complaining – in many ways this is a bed I’ve made for myself, and overall I love it. Compared to working from home with children around, I have a glorious situation.

During the Covid 19 lockdown I’m working in Bothar Bui again, and it has been heaven. I love the opportunity to paint uninterrupted. I would ultimately like to have my studio space separate from the gallery.

Bohar Bui studio overlooking the sea

“I get to work by ten in the morning and work through to six, then home. As well as the studio, I have a desk upstairs in the gallery which is where I do the admin work. I have big spurts of painting, mostly during the quiet winter months. That’s not to say I’m not painting all summer too.

“It was an entirely new form for me, so I had to go there and see the whole process in action

A couple of years ago I started doing tapestry work. I design the tapestries and they’re made in Galway. It’s a project I’ve always had in mind but it really happened because I was showing with the Oliver Sears Gallery in Dublin. He really liked the idea of the tapestries. They’re very expensive to make, so without Oliver’s support to start with, I wouldn’t have been able to do this work.

In the beginning, the factory made a tapestry sample from a painting I had done, and I really hated it. But I knew they had done tapestries for Pat Scott and Louis Le Brocquy. It was an entirely new form for me, so I had to go there and see the whole process in action, learn how it worked so I could get what I wanted. It costs a fortune so I was very nervous to watch the work as it progressed. The tapestry work involves a lot of time on the road as well, driving back and forth to Galway. But that’s just part of life, living this far South; and I do love driving – I love being alone and listening to music.

Red Tree, wool,silk,bamboo, linen.

“The Sylvia Plath quote does resonate with me, but I think it would resonate with any working mother, whether she worked in the bank or was an artist. I think that balancing act is something that most mothers know and I don’t think it matters if you’re working full time or not. I’ve been the main earner in our household, but also been the main organiser of everything. My husband will happily do the shopping, for example, but I’m the one who notices that it needs to be done and writes the list. It’s not so much doing what needs to be done; it’s the extra thinking that working mothers have to do. But I really do think that’s changing. When I look at my son and his girlfriend, they’ve been together about four years now, and they have this lovely equality in their relationship.

“I coped with it in the same way as if it were any other job”

So certainly I have always had to do that balancing act, but it would have been the same for me in any other job. And I coped with it in the same way as if it were any other job – from the very start I always had crèche or childminders, or an au pair, and then school. It cost a fortune but it meant I could work so I could afford it.

BEING IN THE WORLD:

Publication, performance, recording, exhibiting. In this section we ask: how important is it to you that your work exists in a public space? Why do you think this is? And can you tell us about the time and effort you give to getting your work out in the world?

I do think it’s important to me to show my work publicly. I think even if I was working on private commissions all the time and everyone was happy with the work and I was making enough money; I think I still would have that need (although I’m not sure need is the right word)  for people to see my work. Certainly I love having shows. It’s also partly why I’ve always done solo shows outside my own gallery, like in the Oliver Sears Gallery, or for years I showed with the Hallward in Dublin and the Fenton in Cork.

Foxgloves, oil on paper.

In my own gallery I’ll often have my work hanging, but I’ve never had a solo show and publicised it as such. But that’s something I might consider more seriously in the future.

When it comes to the balance between painting and doing the admin work, it’s probably about 50/50. I’d love to not have to do the admin work. Lately in the gallery I have someone else there, usually in the summer months I’ll have an intern or someone working in the gallery so I can be in the studio.

Having a good website; having your work visible – that all really helps.

Sea Pinks Cliff, oil on canvas

BEING IN OURSELVES:

Many creative people speak of periods of self doubt or impostor syndrome. It seems that choosing to persist with our creative projects takes great courage at times. In this section we ask: How has self doubt affected you, if at all? What have you done to bring yourself through difficult times and allow yourself to persist? What has helped you?

Sometimes you are working away and you feel that the work is going really well and you’re really happy; but the next day you come back and it’s shite. That’s normal; it’s a normal part of the job. And it can happen the other way around too – where you are really struggling, where it feels like it’s not working at all. This is like the question I get asked a lot – how do you know when a piece is finished? There are times when I just don’t know. I have projects that might be in the studio for years and when I finally look back at them I think, actually that’s good; there’s a poignancy in the piece. It might have been something I had dismissed as being too naive, but then it turns out that is what’s precious about the piece.

Everybody doubts the work that they’re doing. It’s very much an ongoing balance – feeling you’re great; then feeling you’re crap. Luckily for me there has always been enough urgency about survival that it has kept me working. And I always have work to do, whether working towards an exhibition or on a commission; so I’ve never been in a situation where I could sit back and wallow in self doubt.

I think in the bigger picture it’s very important not to take yourself too seriously. Always do your best; always question your work – but don’t think of yourself as some magnificent great artist. Just do your job, like anybody else.

Gold Tree, oil on canvas

http://sarahwalker.ie/

https://sarahwalkergallery.com/

Instagram @sarahwalkergallery

http://botharbui.com/

Liliane Malemo – artisan clothing designer

Liliane Malemo – artisan clothing designer

Liliane Malemo is an artisan clothing designer who works with vintage fabrics to create the ultimate slow fashion: a fresh as a breeze design aesthetic that is deeply eco-conscious too.

“I didn’t want to get into fashion and clothing in the traditional way; I wanted it to mean more,” she says.

In conversation with Tempy for Sonnets and Dirty Dishes, Liliane examines what it means to live passionately by her conviction that creativity, art and artisanal making can be a force for good in the world.

Photo by Andréa Sena

BEGINNINGS:

In this section we ask makers to talk about what started them down the road they are on – how did it begin? On Sonnets and Dirty Dishes, we want to explore what motivates people to take the leap from dreaming, to doing. We ask: Can you tell us what drives you to do what you do?

LILIANE: “I never quite know how to label myself or where I fit. I should say I am a Fashion designer or seamstress, but I have never seen myself as such. An Artist/Artisan/Seamstress I would say best describes me. Sewing is just one aspect of the things I do.

I had no interest in clothes or fashion growing up. But I was always drawing and painting; I loved art and design and CDT (construction, design and technology) classes in school.  Building ideas, making mood boards, picking up ideas everywhere.  My work is about the process of designing something and bringing it into reality.

One of Liliane’s design ideas to finished piece

I became a seamstress, or a designer I guess, by chance thanks to my Art & Design college teacher who encouraged me to do a Surface Design Technology degree (fashion textile) as I didn’t really know where to orientate myself in Art; nor what I wanted to do after I completed my Art & Design course.

I knew it was right for me from the time I started the course and seeing how much I enjoyed it, as it was similar to what I had studied in Art & Design. Experimenting with different media, learning the different techniques of fabric manipulation such as embroidery, silk screening, dye, machine knitting etc. I struggled with the pattern cutting and sewing side and it wasn’t until after I graduated and did several work experiences (including starting ‘Orybany’, an eco-ethical clothing and gift shop in Brussels, with my friend Juliette Berguet) that I really got into sewing and making my own clothes.

“I didn’t want to get into fashion and clothing in the traditional way; I wanted it to mean more”

I got into recycling years ago before it was a popular thing to do, after meeting a woman who ran a shop in England called ‘Petit Miracles’ where she helped refugees and people who had left the prison system by training them to renovate and recycle furniture and furnishings. I thought this was amazing. I realised then I didn’t want to get into fashion and clothing in the traditional way; I wanted it to mean more. The whole concept inspired me.

PRACTICALITIES:

In this section we ask makers to talk about their workspaces, tools, and resources they need. We ask what their work day looks like. We also ask them to respond personally to the Sylvia Plath quote that gives this project its title: ‘I would live a life of conflict, of juggling children, sonnets, love and dirty dishes.’

I didn’t always have a dedicated space to work.  In the past my bedroom or dining room was also my workspace… Imagine the mess!

Now I live in my atelier which I re-mastered so that it can also be a living space. It’s a great thing because it means I can work at absolutely any time of the day or night when I am home. On the other hand I find that I end up not socialising much and using work as an excuse not to do all the other things I should be doing.

Liliane’s studio and home

It’s important to have a dedicated work space because you can leave things as they are and just pick up from where you left, without having to tidy or put away everything. For me I find that it keeps the creativity flowing, not having to set up your work again and continuing in whatever it is you have started.

The space was a blessing in disguise.  After I left Orybany I had no space for my furniture which I had brought here when I moved from the UK. It was all being used in the shop. I was living in just a room at the time and with the commute from the shop to home and finishing late at night I wished I had a place to work and live.

Liliane with Juliette Berguet who she founded the shop Orybany with in Brussels. (Photo via Trends.knack.be)

I had organised to meet up for dinner with Juliette, her family and a few friends. Everyone cancelled at the last minute with the exception of me and her uncle who owned this space which I had spotted at the back of his building.

“My space and my work are really extensions of me, my values and likes”

It was a place used for parties so there was a bar in it but no bathroom, no kitchen. I asked about renting to me and said I’d rebuild it a bit, not having the finances to rent a studio and a home.  So it all worked out.  For the first year I washed my dishes in a bucket, but I made sure to get a bathroom! It was worth it to have a massive space and finally be able to put all my stuff in. I decorated it using all recycled things like tables, sinks etc.  It was really cold at the start, there was not heating so I had to buy wood for a stove – find out how and where to buy wood, which type of wood – it has been an adventure. My space and my work are really extensions of me, my values and likes.

“for me using something that everyone has kind of kills the originality of what I’m trying to make”

I have a sewing machine and an overlocker which is essential for making clothing and things like heavy fabric weights which are really good, but also everything for DIY: hammer, saw, pliers and all types of hand tools. I’m ready to build anything. Sometimes these are useful in making clothes too. I would love to have a pop button machine, fixing pop buttons and grommets by hand can be quite fiddly so those little things just make it easier.

Working with recycled, repurposed, and unwanted materials is the core of my work and my brand, ‘ORII ReUp’ (ReUp is for Reuse, Recyle and Upcyle). If a fabric is still in good condition it can be reused over and over again. With time it becomes vintage. I’m really careful about what I buy and where from – it has to have strength and be a good quality natural fabric.  Sometimes to make something I will mix old and new fabrics to be sure it’s strong.  The problem with using vintage or pre-used clothing is that they can be worn down and tear easily.

I find fabrics in various ways, sometimes from the fabric shop but for me using something that everyone has kind of kills the originality of what I’m trying to make.  Often I buy clothing by the kilo in second hand and vintage shops – sometimes they have odd meters of fabric too. And don’t let me forget ‘CYCLUP’ where I get my fabric and also display some of my collections. All the material must then be washed, dried cleaned and checked for holes, tears, stains etc, before reusing them. As you can see its work and time consuming, but definitely worth it.

I’m always looking for quality fabrics; that’s important. It has to be either cotton or linen.  If I can find a dress in extra large where maybe the style is a bit old but the fabric is still really good I buy it straight away. 

Coat made with a unique vintage linen

I often mix and match old and new fabric, because even if it’s second hand it can still be quite new. You can find some really unique fabrics this way.  I like vintage because they are original, I don’t want to use something you can find anywhere and everywhere. My hope is I can give something very unique to my customers as they are coming to me for a tailor made piece of clothing.  Tailor made is great on one hand because you don’t have to have lots of stock but on the other hand it’s a lot of work with getting fabrics, all the adjusting and making sure everything fits well.

I also get deadstock (fabric left over from a run of designs) from Dries Van Noten. I go to Antwerp when they have a sale every year in their warehouse. The place is amazing, they have one day for selling left over clothes and one day for fabrics.  You can get some really nice limited run prints there.

“being independent is a lot of work and time consuming, and often kills the creativity part for those of us that are artisans/craftsmen”

I love what I do; it feels more like a hobby than work – when it’s not repetitive. Opportunities have made it so it can become something I can partially live on, including the support of friends and family that have always encouraged me to take the step to make my passion a profession.

I have been very fortunate, having started by opening Orybany with Juliette has given me experience of both maintaining a shop and being involved in the business development aspect, including selling products and liaising with other artists. It has been an enormous help in the development of my own brand and finding the balance.

I found the formula that works best for me in order to be financially stable and enjoy my art, was to partially have a stable source of income by working part-time and creating and selling my products on the side. I am registered as a small business with a limited income allowance that I cannot go over per year. I choose this option because it removes the stress of having to overwork to make a living and gives me the flexibility to choose my projects and customer orders.  Based on my experience, I found that being independent is a lot of work and time consuming, and often kills the creativity part for those of us that are artisans/craftsmen.

On weekdays with the exception of Monday, my routine is 10am-7pm regular job then 8pm till past midnight – creative work when I am not too tired. The weekends and Mondays are a melting pot of everything I can possibly do: sew, clean the house, administrative work, social media, photo shoot, mood board and preparation of garments presentation, delivery and collect of goods, visit friends and family, and REST!

Photo by Andréa Sena

BEING IN THE WORLD:

Publication, performance, recording, exhibiting. In this section we ask: how important is it to you that your work exists in a public space? Why do you think this is? And can you tell us about the time and effort you give to getting your work out in the world?

I think it depends on the individual and the motivation behind the work. Some of us just want recognition; others want to make a living, and some just for the pleasure and the love of sharing. But I would say for many of us we want to just share the things that fascinate us and what we find beautiful, a part of our universe. For me to exist or be recognised is an extra; It’s not my aim. But  let’s admit it…… to have your work be appreciated by others does feel GOOD!

My main goal is to be able to fully make a living of my Art without the financial pressure.

The fact that I ran Orybany meant I have lots of contacts with people in events, shops, designers, customers. People saw my work and know me and would tell other people.  So I didn’t have to work hard to get known or be online. I get regular orders and requests, just enough to balance with my other job. It’s all been word of mouth. It has saved me from having to advertise or sell online, the pressure is not there. It’s a good balance right now as I work part time too, I wouldn’t have time to take on too much more work. I make a lot of stuff all the time, masks, shirts, wedding dresses – but I don’t have the time yet to photograph and post everything to social media. Maybe I will in the future, maybe I need someone who likes doing that to help me.

Currently I am working on promoting my brand and eventually having a professional website. In the meantime I use Instagram to share my work and my universe. I am not active on Facebook although I know it’s a great tool to advertise and connect with people. But years and experience have taught me to pick one thing and stick to it – I just can’t be in all places. Also being an artist/artisan, every moment spent on social networks – and we all know how time consuming it can be – is time away from my craft, even if it’s a necessity in order to grow and be noticed. 

BEING IN OURSELVES:

Many creative people speak of periods of self doubt or imposter syndrome. It seems that choosing to persist with our creative projects takes great courage at times. In this section we ask: How has self doubt affected you, if at all? What have you done to bring yourself through difficult times and allow yourself to persist? What has helped you?

I often have self doubt in the value or worth of my work. I tend to undervalue its worth because I think to myself – “no one is going to pay that price for a garment.” This is especially an issue with the large variety in cost the clothing industry offers. And this kind of thinking is because I am always comparing myself to the market price, which I shouldn’t because we all know that handmade and industrial products have a different creative process, not to mention that clothes made by big companies are not always ethical and fair trade thus justifying the ridiculously low cost of garments or accessories.

A friend of mine always told me how you value your work is how you value yourself.  My work puts quality over quantity; ethics over exploitation. I’m learning to not compromise or sell my creations for less than they are worth.

Photo by Ketty Line Domingues.
Photo by Ketty Line Domingues.

Instagram: @Orii.reupwear

Contact: orii.reupwear@gmail.com

Orybany: orybany.com

Liz Gill – Screenwriter and Director

Liz with film crew in Ashcroft, Canada.

Liz Gill is a screenwriter, director and producer, best known for her tenderly hilarious 2003 film, Goldfish Memory, which won 16 festival awards internationally and 9 IFTA nominations, including best film, director, and script.

As well as screenwriting, Liz’s wide ranging experience as a director and First Assistant Director culminated in her book, Running the Show – the Essential Guide to Being a First Assistant Director, published by Focal Press (US).

For TV, Liz has directed a diverse range of shows, from soaps such as Eastenders to the surreal and side-achingly funny series, Hardy Bucks. She is currently working on the Netflix series Valhalla, a spin-off of Vikings on which she worked extensively as a producer.

Liz tells Beth for Sonnets and Dirty Dishes, ‘Gender was hugely important in my choice to abandon my career as a screenwriter. In my time working in cinema through my twenties and thirties, if anything, the gender imbalance got even worse. People think, oh we’ve had feminism, all that has been sorted. But it’s not.’

Continue reading “Liz Gill – Screenwriter and Director”

Jill de Búrca – embroidery designer

Jill De Burca (photo by Ruth-Maria Murphy)

Jill de Búrca is a sought after Embroidery and Embellishment Designer who has sold her creations to a wide range of international designers including Calvin Klein, Diane Von Furstenberg, BCBG Max Azria, JCrew, Topshop, and Thurley .

Jill studied textiles and specialized in Embroidery for her degree at NCAD Ireland, after which she moved to the UK to train with Larch Rose, a highly creative fashion and textile studio who were dedicated to producing innovative and directional work for the fashion industry.  Later she trained with Jenny King master embroiderer and worked on the production of Erdem’s exquisitely embroidered clothes. Other clients included Stella McCartney and Mary Katrantzou .  Her own clothing designs are fashion forward but utilise techniques and craftsmanship from the past. She uses an Irish Singer Embroidery machine to free-hand satin stitch, which is a skill rarely used today.

Jill talks to Sonnets and Dirty Dishes about learning to protect what she loves most, and the health benefits of a studio companion who demands to be brought for regular walks.

BEGINNINGS:

In this section we ask makers to talk about what started them down the road they are on – how did it begin? On Sonnets and Dirty Dishes, we want to explore what motivates people to take the leap from dreaming, to doing. We ask: Can you tell us what drives you to do what you do?

JILL: “I am still uncomfortable describing myself as fashion designer even though I do make clothes. I feel I am a textile / embroidery designer first and foremost.

I guess I’ve always been interested in making and doing and never really looked at any alternative other than Art collage. I had no idea what I would end up doing but I gravitated towards textiles and fashion and specialised in embroidery at NCAD.

My mam and great aunts were always sewing and knitting. I love the making process and this is something that has always influenced the way I work. I started working in a small fashion design studio when I moved to Brighton and it really cemented the love of making. We did everything in house, from hand dying, designing embellishments and prints to cutting and constructing the clothing. It was an incredible learning experience. It’s still an important part of my practice, making everything in our little studio.

Photo via TheGloss.ie

PRACTICALITIES

In this section we ask makers to talk about their workspaces, tools, and resources they need. We ask what their work day looks like. We also ask them to respond personally to the Sylvia Plath quote that gives this project its title: ‘I would live a life of conflict, of juggling children, sonnets, love and dirty dishes.’

“After collage I was stuck in a desk job and wasn’t using my degree, doing what I loved. I felt adrift and found it difficult to find a fulfilling job that paid a living wage. I decided if I wanted to really give it a go I had to go and get some experience abroad and moved to the UK. That desk job gave me a taste of what I didn’t want and this was a huge motivator, trying to find what I did want to do, and make it work!

No job I had in the UK was 9-5. It was really long hours but I was really driven and happy learning new skills. I went from intern to running the embroidery department in a short time.

I learned to use an Irish Singer free-stitch machine while interning at Jenny King and fell in love with it. I got to work on my technique while working on collections of some of the biggest names in London fashion Week. When I decided to move home I wanted to continue working in a studio and making so this was a big motivator in setting up a studio in Dublin.

Embroidery detail

PRACTICALITIES

In this section we ask makers to talk about their workspaces, tools, and resources they need. We ask what their work day looks like. We also ask them to respond personally to the Sylvia Plath quote that gives this project its title: ‘I would live a life of conflict, of juggling children, sonnets, love and dirty dishes.

“I have a studio down the end of my garden. I have always wanted a studio where I live. I worked from home for years and it was quite difficult. Taking out all my work and at the end of the day having to put it away again was frustrating.

My studio is now a treasure trove of fabrics, threads, beads and things I’ve collected over the years. I’ve always collected bits to use in my work or that inspire me. When I lived in Brighton we had the luxury of a man visiting the studio with a van full of vintage trims and glass beads from an old factory in France. It was like Christmas and I still have lots of vintage threads, trims and beads. I also bought a vintage haberdashery display cabinet from a shop that was closing down, and an architect’s plan chest which I had a desk custom built around at waist height, so I can stand and work around the table.

My most precious pieces are my sewing machines. I bought my Vintage Irish Singer sewing machines from a lady in Newry. They don’t make them anymore. The one I use is over 70 years old. I was very lucky to get them as they are so rare to come by. The woman had used them since she was twelve when she started working in a factory in Northern Ireland and used them all through her life until she had to retire. It’s an amazing workhorse, still perfect and I feel lucky to have them.

embroidery and embellishment detail

“It’s taxing on the body to sew intensively all day

“My work day varies from day to day. In between my own work, I teach Textile Theory, Fabric Manipulation techniques and Embroidery part-time to 3rd level students and I am also currently doing a masters at in Education, Training and Learning. No matter what I’m doing, my day always starts with taking my dog for a walk first thing.

I spend a lot of time working solo so my dog is great company and also I have to leave the studio to go for walks, so good for my health overall. It’s taxing on the body to sew intensively all day so I tend to do a few hours on the machine and then change it up. I make a list each week and work through it crossing things off as I go. I’m lost without to do lists!

Walking companion Noodle

“I decided to concentrate on the parts of the work I loved

“My work life balance is better but still not perfect and I think that’s something that will forever be in flux. I have changed the way I work in recent times and I now only do bespoke embroidery jobs. This allows me to pick and choose work that excites me, and concentrate on the most important bit, which for me is the embroidery.

Running a label takes an incredible amount of time and energy. I had little left for myself and felt like I was going to burn out. You are not only a designer, you are production manager, sales manager, accountant, studio manager, promoter and everything else in between. It took me away from the creative process more and more, the busier I became.

I decided to concentrate on the parts of the work I loved which was the embroidery and making. This has also given me time to teach which has always been a part of my job as a designer that I loved. Training interns and sharing techniques is incredibly rewarding and fun. Teaching is also a break from the studio; it can be quite isolating at times working solo.

Sometimes putting too much pressure on your creative job to provide your entire income, creates too much pressure to succeed financially. I have become almost protective of what I love and finding other sources of income has in a way allowed me to continue to work the way I want to.

Jill at work (photo by Curator Paints)

BEING IN THE WORLD

Publication, performance, recording, exhibiting. In this section we ask: how important is it to you that your work exists in a public space? Why do you think this is? And can you tell us about the time and effort you give to getting your work out in the world?

“I think having a deadline is the only way to get a project over the finish line, for me anyway! And having one such as a publication piece or exhibition is an extra push.  Procrastination can be part of the creative process, thinking and sitting with an idea, but ultimately you need to set goals to move projects on and push them in ways you might not have if given all the time in the world.

It can be quite lonely during the creative process so sharing your work and connecting with people is an important part of it. I think having an “event” to unveil your work helps pushing you forward. It is still daunting and stressful but I think ultimately it’s good to be out of your comfort zone sometimes. Otherwise complacency can set in and stagnate your flow.

Sustainability and Ethical standards are an important part of my work. I don’t outsource and this is a conscious choice. A big part of the course I teach is about sustainability and our responsibility to the people in developing countries and the environment. I think if you are a designer today it’s important to make people aware of alternative options that are available other than the fast fashion throw away culture we have normalized. Craft and real creativity should be given the platform, to showcase the process and thought that has gone into it.

Studio work in progress

“I think now more than ever people want to see your process

“I think documenting your work is very important, recognising and respecting the work that has gone into making it come to life. If I’m working on a collection I usually set a deadline for a photoshoot and keep making pieces right up until the day of the shoot. For me, it’s important to collaborate and to work with people who are good at what they do. Fresh eyes are always an added bonus too, especially if you have been isolated, working on this for weeks / months and a bit jaded from it.

I think now more than ever people want to see your process and to have more of an insight into the application of your craft and not just the finished piece. To be able to show the integrity of how things are made, traceability and authenticity especially in fashion is very important. Platforms like Instagram are changing the way we interact with people and how we choose what to show.

Photo shoot

BEING IN OURSELVES:

Many creative people speak of periods of self doubt or imposter syndrome. It seems that choosing to persist with our creative projects takes great courage at times. In this section we ask: How has self doubt affected you, if at all? What have you done to bring yourself through difficult times and allow yourself to persist? What has helped you?

“I was so worried about paying the bills at stages that I have thought of throwing it all in many times but I still think back to that desk job and how unhappy I was.  I have definitely struggled with my own self-doubt and imposter syndrome over the years and I don’t think it’s something that ever goes away. Being creative is incredibly personal and it can be daunting putting your work out there to be critiqued.

I am not great at promoting myself and I have come to discover I am a bit of an introvert. I don’t really like talking about myself and find it painfully hard to talk about my own work sometimes. Collaborating is a great way to work and has been very beneficial in the cross pollination of ideas and also the benefit of having another person to bounce off.

Going through a period of full-on anxiety and panic attacks taught me to take the foot off the pedal and slow down. I was working too much and felt like I was drowning.  Looking after yourself both physically and mentally is so important. If you don’t it will end up choking your creativity and squeezing the love out of it. It’s important to not take it all too seriously either.

Jill shares work in progress and new pieces on her Instagram

www.jilldeburca.com

Instagram @jilldeburca

Enda Wyley – poet

Enda with her 2004 poetry collection ‘Poems For Breakfast’.

The Irish Times lauded her as ‘a true poet.’ Another review celebrated herimagery, honesty and insight.’ Since her first collection of poetry was published in 1993 (with the gloriously playful title, Eating Baby Jesus) Enda Wyley has steadily built an impressive body of work. To date she has published six collections of poetry and three books for children.

Her poetry has been widely broadcast, translated and anthologised including in The Harvard Anthology of Modern Irish Poetry.

She has been poet-in-residence for many projects and institutions including The Coombe Maternity Hospital, Dublin and Dearcán na nDaoine/ The People’s Acorn, a sculpture project by artist Rachel Joynt for Áras an Uachtaráin (the residence of the president of Ireland), among others.

Continue reading “Enda Wyley – poet”

Úna Burke – leather worker

Úna Burke with some of her work (Dylan Vaughan Photography)

Úna Burke is a leather worker and fashion designer whose creations have been chosen by such powerhouse shapers of popular culture as Madonna, Rhianna and Lady Gaga, to name but a few. Her distinctive style helped to create the look of perhaps the most iconic movie heroine of modern times – Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games; and her work was used by Taylor Swift in her music videos.

Úna is from the small village of Knockvicar, in County Roscommon in the West of Ireland. She studied Fashion at Limerick School of Art and Design and then went on to work with several fashion houses around Ireland, before moving to London in 2006 where she began a Masters in Fashion Artefact at the London College of Fashion. 

In conversation with Tempy for Sonnets and Dirty Dishes, Úna talks about riding the waves of a creative life, grounding herself with her craft, and the importance of saying ‘YES’.

Continue reading “Úna Burke – leather worker”

Karen Hilmersson – photographer

Karen Hilmersson self portrait

Karen is a portrait and lifestyle photographer steadily marking her space in the photography world, one photo at a time.  Her love of photography started as a child but it took her years to come back to it and realise that with a camera in her hands she could fill a void in her life – the need to fulfil her creative drive.  Karen is self taught and her busy practice today all started with pushing herself to be her own subject in front of her camera, and making portraits of her children a daily part of life.  She is based in Brussels, Belgium.

Continue reading “Karen Hilmersson – photographer”
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