As I was strolling down Wicklow Street, in Dublin City Centre this week, a flash of geometric colour caught my attention on the opposite side of the road. As I approached the boarded up facade of The International Bar, I was greeted by a compilation of sculptural blueprints by the Irish artist Ana Carey. With a lack of in-person gallery exhibitions to attend as of late, it was wonderfully refreshing to spend time absorbed by her colourful creations. Afterwards, I reached out to Ana and she was kind enough to share her inspiration behind the wall art and reveal some details about an exciting, upcoming exhibition that will hopefully take place next Autumn.
About The Artist
Ana Carey is a Dublin based artist who grew-up on Blackhorse Avenue just on the outskirts of Phoenix Park. From a young age, Ana was surrounded by energy and art. Her lively household was never short of pets, and her mother - who was also a teacher - was passionate about ceramic sculpture.
Ana, your work made me smile today, so thank you! It felt so good to enjoy art again in-person! Could you tell me how you decided to become an artist initially?
Growing up I was surrounded by art, energy and incredible people. From that early stage, I was destined to become an artist. Once I put my hands on the clay, that was it, I just knew I would be an artist. Although, it wasn't until a later stage that I attended collage - as a mature student - but I successfully obtained a degree in combined media and sculpture.
"There was lots of energy in the house as I was growing up, a lot of poetry, a lot of art and a lot of culture!"
I love how as soon as you got your hands on the clay you were entranced by it! Can you tell me a little about your work and how you derive your inspiration?
Inspiration...Strangely it starts with other people! I love drawing from life and creating life-drawings. Focusing on a model, having someone else in the room, and working with their energy is where I derive my inspiration from. I have been fascinated by the human form from a young age, as well as being exposed to all these different characters as I was growing up - I try to capture them in my work. Sharing and having other people experience my art also fuels my inspiration. Just like the boards that you mentioned, the intention was to share the blueprints of the exhibition and put a smile on people's face as they walked by.
You've mentioned the exhibition that you are creating work for at the moment - could you talk a little about it, maybe give us a teaser?
The exhibition is actually a comeback. I suffer with my mental health and was in a down period for some time. It inhibited my creativity quite a bit, so for this exhibition I was forced to change my process in order to be able to continue sculpting. I never really was somebody who drew much, and while I found it difficult to connect with myself, focus and create on a high level, I explored life-drawing - which is what you see on Wicklow Street. This helped me to relax and spurred me to continue with the rest of my work involving video, photography and bronze sculptures - all to be seen in the upcoming exhibition!
I am so in awe of your fortitude and ability to pull through the tough period, adapt and endeavour to create again. I am very excited to see what's in store with this exhibition! Can you reveal some more details about its location and when it will take place?
So, the deadline I have given myself is Autumn of this year - preferably October - but due to the current situation it is hard to say. The venue will be in Dublin 2, on South William Street, I don't want to reveal too much as plans are constantly changing. If Covid prevents having up to fifty people in a room at any one time then, I will organise a virtual exhibition first, using the premises at Grand Social. A big outdoor screen will enable me to display the exhibition, however, I really want to display the art in real-time, in real-life.
Sounds like you are well prepared with a Plan B if Covid restrictions are to prohibit social gatherings. It's exciting to have something to look forward to. How important do you think it is to have a real-time interaction with your sculptures rather than just experience them through a screen? I mean, by nature they are 3-dimensional and have a much heavier presence than other artforms. I think we are all missing that in-person connection with the art the past few months...
It is not just the sculptures that will attract the desire to touch and move around, look under and look in. With the photography and video piece, as well as the sculptures, I hope to create an aura of how I think and feel towards art at present. In my opinion, it is of the utmost importance to have a live exhibition. I am really excited and looking forward to it, as I said, I have a six month deadline so I am starting to pick up the pace with regards to creating. But in addition to the live exhibition, I would still like to organise the virtual display at The Grand Social. There will be live-streaming, a guest-list and interviews as well.
Definitely, it will give those who may not be able to attend the exhibition a chance to experience your work, and of course, give us an insight into the creative process!
I'd love to go into more detail about the bronzes that will feature in the exhibition. Bronze is a traditionally difficult material to work with, can you talk a little about the process of creating a bronze piece?
The bronze, well I start with clay, building the sculpture and form. The piece is then sent into the foundry where it is poured and cast into a bronze. The patination is then applied - which gives it a colour finish. The process gives me the opportunity to revisit old works as the figure can be manipulated in its wax stage (before being cast into bronze and after the clay model) allowing its form to be amended. This enables the creation of duplicate works, what I do though, is reinvent the sculpture each time it is in its wax form. I will be including three small bronzes in the exhibition. I adapted the process to my mental state and capabilities over the last year and a half by taking an old ceramic work and using the bronze technique to play with the sculpture in its wax state in order to get my creativity juices flowing. The three bronzes that will be included in the exhibition have been pigmented using primary colours - representing me getting 'back on the horse' in a sense. I will of course, be including works that have not been seen before as well.
It's fascinating how the wax lends you the flexibility to adapt and develop the piece throughout process. Even though the bronze enables you to duplicate sculptures - no piece is quite the same. What is your favourite medium to work with?
It would be clay. It was the first material that was put in my hand when I was a child!
And one final question that I have to ask! Which artist or movement are you most attracted to and feel your work resonates with?
I really admire, and have looked up to, Rodin my entire life. I also absolutely love Pollock - his use of movement... using his whole body... his translation of energy into painting is amazing.
The International Bar and Supporting Local Artists
The 200 year old pub has been a hub for Irish culture for a long time, with its well known upstairs comedy line up - running for over 30 years. Not only are they a great supporter of the local art scene, they also make a conscious effort to source local labour for any maintenance work, and as Ana notes, they willingly "support anyone who comes in the door and look after people in the community - very much so". Recently, they have started a live-streamed theatre upstairs - just another example of how they are helping to support the arts.
You can see Ana's blueprint drawings adorning the facade of the boarded up bar on Wicklow Street. Stop and spend a few minutes with them next time you pass by, it only does the heart good to bask in art!