I started primary school in Our Lady’s Abbey girls Catholic school in Adare. When we moved to the States I attended Holy Trinity Catholic School and then went on to Ligonier Valley High School for my secondary education.
On returning to Ireland, I was a bit in Limbo. I made an attempt to do a portfolio course in Newcastle West, but it wasn’t for me.
So I did set design for a theatre group and various odd jobs till Fiona Quinn, organizer of the group introduced me to the people of Friars Gate theatre and gallery.
They were happy with my meagre portfolio and agreed to give me a solo exhibition the following year. I spent a year shut away in my room where I created a large selection of paintings.
The exhibition was a success, the majority of paintings sold, and it gave me the confidence to go forward with my art.
With the support of my mother and encouragement of a friend I applied to Limerick College of Further Education for the portfolio course.
I was accepted and with the help of the fabulous tutors there, I worked my butt off to create a portfolio and get the points so I could confidently apply for art college.
I was accepted into Limerick School of Art and Design where I went on to study and receive a BA in Fine Art Printmaking and Contemporary Practice, graduating in 2014.
Although I studied printmaking and started out as a painter, I also work in a variety of other media.
Analogue Photography would be one of my main focuses, I have also become quit keen on sculpture and the found object.
The themes of home, nature, love, religion, and the self, are strong aspects in my work, text is also a strong feature.
I am currently fascinated by wood, combining it with found photos and gold leaf, exploring the sacred feminine; how women are connected to nature, looking at religion, the old goddesses, such as the Venus of Willendorf, the mother figure, and the story of Daphne and Apollo.
Although I am not particularly religious, more superstitious, and not Catholic, I feel my Catholic upbringing, and my experience with diverse religions while living in the States has a strong pull on what I make.
For my last year in College I worked with ceramic and image transfers, now on my own I do not have access to all these wonderful resources so I have had to work things out as I go along.
I have dug a pit in my garden where I fire my ceramic pieces, the resulting work is very primitive. I am enjoying this lack of perfection in my work, and I am trying to relax more and embrace the imperfections in the things I make, seeing the beauty in the broken.
My photographs are also lacking in the precision so many strain to achieve, but I feel it is this flawlessness that make the work more interesting and perhaps helps to get across the right emotion I am trying to channel into what I make.
I have always wanted to be an artist, I am not sure why; I am just naturally drawn to this trade.
It is a way for me to work things out, to get ideas, thoughts, and perhaps emotions out of my head and out of my way. Once I have created something I then move on, I rarely linger.
This can be frustrating as I have many projects only half finished.
The themes are continuous and overlapping, it just takes me time to slowly tease them out, and come to a greater understanding of what it is I want to make.
I always carry a sketchbook with me, this is a very important habit for any artist.
The way I work can be sporadic, little moments, can trigger an idea, image, or sentence I want to work with, I have to get them down quick in case I forget.
I am influenced by Outsider art and many artists and photographers, particularly those of the female persuasion, Louise Bourgeois and Dorothy Cross in particular.
Seeing Cross’s exhibition, ‘View,’ at The Kerlin Gallery in 2014, for me was a turning point in my work, an epiphany. I can’t quit explain the effect that show had on me but I will be forever grateful to Cross for creating it.
The creative vein is very prominent in both sides of my family.
My granny Tarry is an extremely talented photographer and has built up a vast body of work over the years.
My granny Robards was extremely artistic. She would make me clothes, cards and small paintings.
My elder brother Jason Robards is a natural to anything he turns his hand to, he creates beautiful handmade chairs from found wood under the name Hedgerow Crafts.
My parents have always been extremely supportive of my artistic endeavours and have never questioned my choices.
If it wasn’t for my Mother, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this far. She is a great critic and I trust her advice and eye fore-mostly when looking at my work.
My Father gives me great encouragement, he checks my blogs for updates every day.
One of my strongest memories from childhood is of him teaching me to draw trees.
I am lucky enough to be able to visit him in the States once a year where I stay for a period of time. I always appreciate these trips as they help get me out of a creative rut and I feel refreshed on returning home.
I am fascinated by the decaying landscapes and buildings, and the boisterous religious presence in the States, it is quite different and rather more aggressive than Catholic Ireland.
It is for my parents that I want to do my very best with my art, achieving beyond their expectations.
I am not overly optimistic about the future of artists in Ireland.
A tutor once said to me that the best thing for a young artist is to get their work out of Ireland, I have always kept this in mind.
Thankfully it is the artists themselves that are keeping their world afloat despite the lack of funding and affordable spaces.
Like minds coming together to create pop up exhibitions, shops, group shows and shared studio spaces.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed with the way things are in the art world.
There are opportunities, but they are few and far between, especially with the growing influx of young artists.
It is better if you are part of a group or studio, if you can find one. Thankfully Limerick has the Limerick Printmakers which is a wonderful asset for many of us.
I find being a bit of a recluse and living in the country can be quite difficult as an artist. I miss out on opportunities and basic networking. For the country artist we can easily be forgotten. Thankfully there is social media, which at times can be a curse as well as a blessing. It is a great asset to find out about events and opportunities for artists.
I would encourage others to go into the art world, but not lightly. It is a hard job and you cannot look up the answers in books like so many other careers.
There is no guarantee you will do well or become the next big thing. You must do it for love, for love of the work, and your creative practice. It will take so much out of you, but you must keep going; confidence is the key.
The work comes from yourself, your knowledge, and your experiences in the world. I would encourage any young person wanting to go to art college to not go in straight after school. I feel they would benefit much more by going out and experiencing the world, honing their skills. This will assist them greatly, you will have more to draw from and hopefully be able to cope with the pressure and the difficult task of articulating your ideas across to others.
As artists we tend to fall into a bubble, at least by earning a greater knowledge and life experience you can create the pin to pop that bubble.
I myself feel I would have profited much more from my experience in art college if I was that bit older and wiser, and perhaps a bit more confident.
I have a few friends who are extremely talented and unfortunately life has gotten in the way and they have had to put their creative impulses aside.
I despair over this and would never tell someone not to follow their creative instincts.
I plan on continuing with my artistic endeavours; I would hope at some point to have an exhibition, I am also trying to coax my brother into creating a joint body of work, but I have no solid plans at the moment.
Ideally I would love to do an MA so I could teach at a University level, to be an artist and to teach art, helping young artists like my tutors helped me, sharing my knowledge of art, researching, and just being able to inspire would be wonderful.
We shall see what the future holds, as my Granny Robards used to say, ‘It’s all in the stars.’