Artist in Lockdown Series #5 - EILIS O'CONNELL

How has lockdown affected your routine and practise?

I am lucky that I can work and live in my studio. It’s hard to concentrate in this Covid era but once I motivate myself and start work it’s back to normal and I loose myself in it. All my future projects have been disrupted and I’m learning to live in the present. It’s the uncertainty that troubles me. I’m loving the garden around the studio and I’m planting bulbs. I go for long walks locally and that is keeping me calm.

This new reality has made me acutely aware of the importance of people that I care about, nature, birdsong, growth, sunlight the simple things in life that we take for granted.


What have you been working on today?

I’ve been finishing some small sculptures with Jemonite, glass cloth and wood. The laser cut wood were left overs from a project that I abandoned, so a bit of “adhocism” already.

Normally they would be cast in bronze but I’m making them stronger and more permanent so that I can show them as they are.


What are you missing the most in this time of isolation?

PEOPLE  actual real people.


Are you struggling to get hold of materials and does this mean you are coming up with original ideas to compensate?

Because I work in a rural area I have materials in stock so that’s OK for now. My hoarding instinct is central to the way I work. I have a big shed full of interesting materials that I ‘ve gathered over the years, it’s like a three dimensional library that I use continuously so there is an endless resource to experiment and work with.

It’s been interesting to go back to using simple materials like colouring pencils, watercolours and inks. I dug out a lot of unfinished drawings yesterday and I’ve actually finished them. Years ago I made big wall pieces with paper pulp made from my old recycled drawings and if this continues I will do some more.


What are you doing to remain positive?

Working and rummaging around in the studio, drawing, looking at old family photos and whatsaping them to the family, long walks, good food and zoom book club meetings. And cleaning believe it or not…


What advice would you give to your fellow creative practitioners?

Loose yourself in your work, experience nature where ever you can, if possible go for long walks on your own and talk to people on the phone.


Do you think art and the art world will look different when we re-emerge from isolation?

The well being of the society we live in will make life better for everyone. Art has a role to play in the re structuring of the world as we know it.

I hope that certain practices end like the hype, greed and promotion of art to people who use it as commodity to flip for profit and store in vaults. Covid 19 just might make people realise that we need to live in a more sustainable manner, conspicuous consumption is meaningless in the great scheme of things.


Can you recommend a good art related book, podcast or film/series for everyone in lockdown?

Art podcasts the Bowdown series and Materiallyspeaking. There’s also a lovely podcast with Sara Baume and Sinead Gleeson as part of the book festival called Cuirt.

( not art related ) West Cork is a great podcast as is the Nobody Zone.

“A line made by walking” by Sara Baume and her new book “Handiwork which is all about making and is brilliant.

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

Chroma by Derek Jarman

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

(Non art  book) anything by Hilary Mantel and Barbra Kingsolver.


What is your favourite recipe during lockdown?

Pancakes made with egg and banana topped with maple syrup and cream.


Which artist (dead or alive) would you most like to be in isolation with and why?  

Phyllida Barlow. We are such different sculptors but her energy is magnificent, I would love to meet her.


To see the exhibition catalogue of Eilis O'Connell's current exhibition click here

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April 24, 2020