Dídean / Home
Friday 7 March – Saturday 26 Apr
I have been visiting Portlaoise for the last few years, teaching art in the prison and working on various Artist-in-Prison projects, so I was delighted when I was offered the opportunity to exhibit my work at Dunamaise Arts Centre.
The title of this exhibition is “Dídean/ Home” and it consists of paintings and installations exploring the human dimension to the economic crisis and looking at notions of “home”. In recent years, much has been written about ghost estates, empty hotels and tenantless apartment blocks, at one time an estimated 300,000 units vacant or unfinished, but at the same time we read about the growing problem of homelessness in our country. My work engages with contradictions such as these but, whilst the subject matter may be tough and the questions raised uncomfortable, my primary intention is to make art that moves people.
So I collect images from newspapers, magazines and the internet to find the subjects for my artworks. I am particularly interested in images of ordinary people in situations of conflict or crisis. It is all too easy to become inured to the individual stories that lie behind any of these images, but by choosing one and making it the subject of a large painting, for instance, I try to emphasize the importance of that human story and, in a way, to subvert the notion of the “15 minutes of fame”. I am interested in exploring how art may produce a deeper and more enduring understanding of the contemporary experience than do media images.
From a formal point of view I became interested in using discarded material in my artwork - cardboard, newspaper, paper coffee cups etc. I thought that it fitted well with the themes I was exploring. The empty coffee cups became a symbol for me of the “Boom and Bust”. During the era of the Celtic Tiger, it seemed like everyone was in a hurry - in a hurry to get to work, in a hurry to make money, in a hurry to build. No time to stop and chat, a quick coffee on the go, Skinny Lattes, Cappucinos, Caffé Mochas - madness - and then at the end of the day, the poor man on the street was using the empty cup to beg for help.
I also became interested in using cardboard in my work. If I was homeless and I had a piece of cardboard and a black marker, would I use them to write: “I’m Hungry, Please Help”, or would I start making art, right there on the street? As an artist, I feel grateful that I can create images out of thin air. I can picture places I’d like to be, things I could have... That’s why I called my installation of cardboard drawings: “Where there is art, there is hope”.
In the end, making art is a mysterious occupation. Working alone in the studio, I paint, I make things, I try out ideas, and sometimes my mistakes inspire new directions and new work… to borrow a quote from the late Tony O’Malley: “you work at it day after day and then suddenly, something happens, a revelation”. That’s how it is.
Eoin Mac Lochlainn graduated from NCAD in 2000. He is a founder member of the artists’ collective Tondo. He won The Golden Fleece Award for his work in 2008, was shortlisted for the Davy Portrait Award in 2010 and won the ESB Keating McLaughlin Medal at the RHA the same year.
He has had ten solo exhibitions in Ireland and has participated in several selected exhibitions (including RHA, RUA, Iontas, Éigse, Oireachtas) and in various group shows in Ireland, England, France, Belgium, Georgia and China. His work is in the collections of: OPW, AIB, Bank of Ireland, AXA Insurance, University of Limerick, Wesley College, the Boyle Civic Collection and in various private collections.
Dídean / Home at Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, runs from Friday 7 March – Saturday 26 April with an Opening Reception on Friday 7 March, 7pm. Artist’s talks or workshops can be arranged on request 057-8663355.