Ten Minutes with artist Gearoid Simms

Ten Minutes with artist Gearoid Simms

Gearoid Simms is a Dublin artist, born and brought up in The Liberties. He describes his art as expressive realism. “I use a heavy texture to bring out feeling and as truthfully to the image as possible,” he says.

Gearoid is exhibiting at the Trinity Centre in Bristol on May 21

He found time to leave his easel and answer our questions

What are you up to?

I'm preparing for my upcoming exhibition in Bristol, May 21st. Up to me tonsils. Also my wife is recovering from an ankle replacement so I'm like Speedy Gonzales doing errands.

Which artist has most influenced you?

Ah a difficult one I'm so broad. It's a course pack like the national but by a neck... Vincent Van Gogh, genius.

Which painting totally moves you?

God, another toughie. But if pushed, I’d say The Hay Wain by John Constable. Remember seeing it for the first time with my Da,  in the National Gallery. We both sat in awe, magically staring into times past.

Which piece of music always sends a shiver down your spine?

In an Irish context, The Lonesome Boatman by The Fureys. My mother had a great talk with Finbar, after a concert one time in Dublin. They were both reminiscing about the times when The Fureys lived on High Street in the liberties. The second part to this question is Concierto de Aranjuez  by Joaquin Rodrigo. Brilliant. Always sends me adrift.

Which living artist do you admire?

This side it would be Pete Brown, ‘Pete the Street’, plein air artist, living in Bath. Brilliant and humble. Other side it's probably Brian Mac  Mahon, Limerick artist. Myself, Sue O' Brien and Brian would meet up in Grogran’s pub, Dublin. Tommy Smyth, RIP, patron of the arts would hold court to us all. Amazing times.

You’re exhibiting in Bristol — what do you reckon of the street art there?

I'm in awe of the scale of the street art, so bold and full of flair. I love how the images are interwoven, new murals superimposed over the old.

Who would act you in a film about your life?

Well he has to be able to act the maggot for starters. I could see Paul Rowe doing a good job.

You tend to work on location. Is that more inspiring for you than working in the studio?

I find working in plein air much better for streetscapes. The figures are constantly changing so when you return later to finish the painting you can decide where and what figures go in. I've often returned for a third time just to do the figures. And often I've ruined a picture by misplacing the figures. Landscapes in plein air you 've got to work manically as the sky and light changes.

When you receive the Turner Prize which one person will you thank?

Without a doubt I would thank my Da. his advice that was passed on to him by George Campbell and Arthur Armstrong, full of wisdom. Looking at my Da's work, it’s of old Dublin in the late 1960s to early 90s. He'd have easel out in Summer Hill, along Parnell Street, capturing Dublin before it changed. Very much like LS Lowry. He was from the country and growing up, he cocked hay and worked on the bogs. This is all very evident in his landscapes. No one painted reeks of turf like him.

You’re from the Liberties — are all your family roots in Dublin?

Yeah, all my mother’s side are Liberties people. Looking at the census

In 1911 there my granny mentioned living in Thomas Court. I think her mother’s family came from Clontarf — Gays, and Bergins. My Da's family were from Meath and Kildare.

A favourite place in Ireland?

I suppose it would be Connemara. We got to know a lot of the family's living there —  Devaneys, De Courcys and Kanes. Like everywhere else in the world it's changed, but there you have it, That's life.

What would be your motto?

Never give up, life has its ups and downs.

Do you have a particular regime when you’re trying to finish a painting?

Ideally to save labour time one would need to have at least two paintings on the go in the studio. If I'm going for a conceptual piece I always have planned and sketched ideas before I start. This saves time and materials.

Which historical figure do you admire?

Geronimo. His spirit lives on among the Apache people. He never gave up and only asked and wanted the aboriginal people to be left alone and be free.

Mozart or Martin Hayes?


Banksy or Picasso?

A hard one... I'll be brave. Picasso, in his brilliance stole ideas. Banksy, clever and original, both publicly mad. I'd go with Banksy.

What books are on your bedside table at the minute?

The Life And Rhymes Of Benjamin Zephaniah, brill read.

In terms of inanimate objects, what is your most precious possession?

Still use my Da's easels.

You live in Bath. What’s the best thing about the city?

Living in Bath: best bits… . ..it's so Dickensian. Worst bits... as it becomes more touristy it's losing its warmth.

Pantomime or opera?
I love a panto.

What do you consider the greatest work of art in any sphere from classical music to sculpture, or from drill music to modern art?

I'dsay Michelangelo's The Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Amazing and all done on his ear.

Who/what is the greatest love of your life?

Loves of life are my kids Isaiah, Ruby and my wife Jeanette.

Gearoid Simms is holding an art exhibition on Tuesday 24th May 2024, 6pm to 9.30pm at the Trinity Centre.