Meet the unique Donegal artist chosen to represent Ireland at major European art competition in Denmark
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Meet the unique Donegal artist chosen to represent Ireland at major European art competition in Denmark

IRISH artist Kevin Callaghan has been chosen to represent Ireland at the Ceramic Context Biennale at the Bornholm Art Museum in Denmark.

The Donegal artist has been honing his craft since first working with ceramics in Derry in the early 2000's.

After studying there for two years, Kevin moved to Cork to further his studies at Colaiste Stiofain Naofa and later at the prestigious Crawford College of Art and Design.

Since completing his MA at the Royal College of Art in London in 2013, he exhibits nationally and internationally, showing his work at Dublin Castle, The London Art Fair and the Saatchi Gallery - where he will be featured again on October 20th as part of a One To Watch showing.

Now, Kevin lives in Glasgow where he recently completed a residency at The Glasgow Sculpture Studio.

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Ahead of his exhibition at the Ceramic Context Biennale, Kevin spoke to The Irish Post about his artistic process and what inspires him.

Describing his work, Kevin said he investigates ideas and conjectures about Utopian philosophy and science fiction.

His desire is to question and address the limitations of the human condition, revealing the simplicity of how we all travel consciously or unconsciously through the third and fourth dimensions of time and space.

To do this, Kevin uses simple universal mathematical structures such as the triangle and square as a point of departure. These are treated in contrasting colours in order to maximize optical dynamism and vibrancy. The geometric structures intertwine, appearing precarious and spontaneous, the dynamic state attempts to question notions of order and chaos.

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Kevin's dad was a building contractor while his mother was heavily into fashion, which may explain his gravitation towards structure and style.

Having spent time on a residency in China after winning the Frank Ryan Travel Bursary Award, he became very interested in Asian aesthetics and abstract expressionism.

As a result, most of his work comes from spontaneous thinking, and he cites Jackson Pollock's method of running around a room for one hour before attacking the canvas as an example.

As Kevin aptly put it: "My art is structure but with spontaneity."

Location and environment are also important to Kevin.

He has a residency at the stunning Cill Rialaig Project in Kerry to look forward to from the 20th to the 31th October.

The centre is built out of the ruins of a 1790s pre-famine village atop a cliff face overlooking the Atlantic, and offers artists, writers and other creative professionals an opportunity to get away from everyday career pressures and the demands of 21st century life in order to focus entirely on their artistic practice.

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As much as he loves his homeland of Donegal, the area has always received less funding in terms of arts and culture than other counties in the south.

Although Cork was where he matured and grew as an artist, the rising cost of living in Ireland made it difficult to remain.

London beckoned, and was very good to him throughout the years he spent there, however, the same crippling financial barriers encouraged him to relocate again to Scotland.

When asked if he would consider moving back to Ireland to set up shop and continue his work, he said: "Honestly, not at the moment considering what I've witnessed in recent weeks and months with the housing crisis and the general state of the nation.

"The Dublin-based musician David Kitt sparked a conversation on Twitter recently when he expressed his sadness at having to leave his city to go abroad, because the cost of living was making it almost impossible for him to survive as an artist.

"I've got a good thing going at the moment in Glasgow. It's a beautiful city with great people and a lot is happening here. Why change that?"

Next year, Kevin returns to London for a very special collaboration with Artists Unknown Fields Division, who traced the global supply chain of rare earth elements – the 17 most sought after minerals in the world, used in high-end electronics and green technologies – to their source at a toxic lake in Inner Mongolia.

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Three vases made from the radioactive lake mud will be on display at London V&A’s What is Luxury? exhibition from the 25 of April.

Also, Kevin has just recently confirmed a May 2019 showing in the European Culture Centre Venice, Italy.

Kevin's exhibition runs from now until 11th November at the Bornholm Art Museum in Denmark, and with his first major solo show coming up in September of next year, the future looks bright for this exciting artist.