We had the good fortune of connecting with Ciara O’Keeffe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ciara, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I think if I am being honest, as a creative I didn’t get the opportunity to choose a acreer path.. I was born a creative. It took me a few years to build my confidence and to be happy in my own skin . Being Irish and raised in an era where I was expected to go to college, study, get a degree with real job prospects and live happily ever after. I did one year of a degree course in marketing and german and felt suffocated….This career path just wasnt for me. I always had to make, to draw, to create my heart ached for it and my soul and my sanity are grateful fo it. I’ve had many different jobs in my 20 year career. All the jobs I have worked have given me the financial freedom to sustain my ceramic practise. The dream is to build a creative business where I can work on my own practise in tandum with teaching young creatives with mental health issues..
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My art is hand-built ceramicware in the form of wall pieces,story-bowls and beautiful one off bespoke cremation urns . As the French Philosopher Paul Ricoeur said, “To be forgotten is to die twice.” No one should ever be forgotten and this is why my work has evolved into a narrative, chronicling the journey of life and using clay as a vehicle to translate this story. Everyone has a story to tell. From the moment we are born we are creating our life story. How do we keep this story alive. I use the art of ceramic to create pieces that will last longer than a life time. Thus keeping stories and memories alive. I organised and directed an exhibition in 2016 that commemorated the civilians that died in the Easter Rising of 1916 in Ireland. It was “The 1916 Sackville Street Art Project”This exhibition open my eyes and mind to the stories that were untold and lives that have been forgotten. I want to embrace my celtic heritage and this is very visible in the style and tone to my story bowls. The story of strenght,resiliance, and faithfulness is told through my hands. What I cannot voice in words I create in clay. The lesson that I have learned along the way is, if you have a dream no matter what age you are, no matter how many knocks you get, pick yourself back up, smile and dream bigger…….
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am from a small town called Athy, about 75km south of Dublin city, Ireland. I am so grateful to live here surrounded by the beautiful river Barrow and Whites Castle sitting on its banks. Athy seems to be becoming the cultural capital of Ireland or even the world…..LOL…..People from Mani from the Stoned Roses, Johnny Marr(guitarist with the Smiths), Neil Hannon(lead singer) with the Divine Comedy, Picture This(Pop Band) all have family connections in Athy. Famous Lady Diana and Samuel Beckett photographer John Minihan also hails from Athy. A visit to Athy would not be complete without a visit to Frank O’Brien’s grocery and public house.Situated in the square of the market town it is a welcoming hub of lovliness. Run by Judith and her husband Mark, this is where to go to experiencel the soul of Athy. I was studying a postgraduate course in cultural and creative entreprenuership in the famous trinity College Dublin, and this gave me oportunities to visit all that Dublin has to offer in way of places to check out. I visited The book of Kells and Trinity library long room, which are two must sees. Collins Barracks, Stephens Green, The Shelbourne Hotel, Guinness Storehouse, Botanic gardens Glasnevin, Croke Park and just a few places to visit. There’s too much to put down on paper but if you are only visiting for a week the aforementioned should keep you occupied.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I hope this doesnt sound corny but my primary school teacher is my HERO…. She taught me for 3 years when I was a child. She is now in her 80’s…. She instilled in me that academic education can be taught hand in hand with a creative education. She made school fun, we learned while we created. We sewed, we sang, we painted we played all while achieving top results academically. To this day I am grateful for her being so inspirational and her ground breaking methods of teaching. My love of all things creative lies soley at the feet of this amazing teacher. Another woman who inspired me and spoke words of wisdom and encouragement was my lecturer in art college. On my last day of college, she took me to one side and said, whatever you have to do to sustain a career in ceramics…do it….never give up on your dream. This has stuck with me 20 years on, and Val if you are reading this out there I’ll never give up that dream.
Linkedin: Ciara O’Keeffe
Facebook: Ciara O’Keeffe (Artist)
James Mahon Photographer