Every picture tells the story of Cork...

Artist Jill Cotter is documenting Cork city’s changing landscape with fabulous doodles. She tells SARAH CREMIN about her inspiration
Every picture tells the story of Cork...

The English Market facade by  Jill Cotter

IN just six months, CorkIDoodleDo, an architectural art company, has really put itself — and Cork city — on the map.

Its doodles of some of the city’s best-known landmarks really catch the eye and its mission statement lovingly promises to “reveal Cork’s most loved buildings and streetscapes one doodle at a time”.

Jill Cotter, the artist behind CorkIDoodleDo, revealed how it all came about.

“I spent four lovely years at the Crawford CIT many moons ago, studying printmaking and photography,” said Jill, 41, a mother-of-three who lives in Rochestown.

“I loved etching, the whole process of making a print and its fine lines, which is borne out in my drawing style now.

“Drawing is such a wonderful way of connecting with a place and with each sketch I feel I’m getting to know the city better.”

However, like many people, it took a stint away from her homeland to really appreciate Cork’s uniqueness and sense of self.

Jill lived away from home, working on cruise ships and then for the BBC in their television studios, for a decade.

She said: “I returned home in 2010 from London, to Cork’s narrow streets and low-sized buildings, many in disrepair mid-recession, and began to look around at my home town with fresh eyes.

“Initially, Cork felt small and a little downtrodden to me; I had grown used to the vastness, the scale and the imposing regality of London. I set about trying to fall in love with the city again.

“Some people feel the need to write to make sense of things, I find that drawing is my therapy and as a way of processing my thoughts and feelings for Cork, I started drawing its pubs, churches, and streetscapes.

“I reacquainted myself with Cork’s very special charm, and found that even though the exterior of our buildings may not be the most impressive, it’s what goes on inside these buildings that makes our home unique.

“Lets face it... it’s raining most of the time anyway!”

CorkIDoodleDo has certainly made an impression since launching in November.

“It has been used by the council to promote the city, and also by CIT for the opening of their new premises on the Grand Parade,” said Jill.

“CorkIDoodleDo is also retailing in Newbridge Silverware on Oliver Plunkett Street and I’m also proud to feature in Cork’s trendiest redevelopment project, the brand new Nano Nagle Place.”

Jill will also have an exhibition in On the Pigs back in Douglas in June and July.

How does she feel about the redevelopment that is going on in Cork?

“I’ve had many requests to draw photos of Cork in days gone by, but what really interests me is telling the story of Cork as it is today,” she says.

“What I’ve realised is that some of my drawings have already become drawings of Cork past, as our city is in the face of a new dawn.

“The cranes are up and our city is on the move again, and I know I’m going to have a lot of fun chronicling it in the days and years ahead.

“Cork is a place of wonderful memories, it’s intimate and welcoming. We are a vibrant, colourful and creative people and ingrained in us is a deep understanding that we have something special here in the Rebel County.”

Jill says her compulsion to draw again came after the birth of her second baby.

“I drew my uncle’s shop, Household Linens on Oliver Plunkett Street, and before long, I had started on the South Mall, the streets of Cobh and Shandon,” she says.

Imperial Hotel on South Mall by Jill Cotter
Imperial Hotel on South Mall by Jill Cotter

In the past couple of years, with the Reimagine Cork movement and the Mad About Cork group, and the economy on the rise again, one can really feel we are getting back on our feet again and starting to celebrate, loudly and proudly, our city and our heritage.

The fact Cork was voted the most culturally vibrant city by the European Commission last month underlined this new vitality.

Jill has been closely following the redevelopment of the South Mall and is involved with the A City Rising campaign. Her sketches transcend the ages and show Cork in all its glory.

“My drawings want to join in the celebrations too,” says Jill, “to remind you of a great night out or a visit to a heritage sight, or simply a walk you took along one of our beautifully charming streets.

“London and all the other cities can keep their grand edifices, what we have here is simply magic. You just need to take the time to look.”

Jill’s illustrations of Cork are also now stocked in Nano Nagle Place, a recent rejuvenation project that has seen the redundant South Presentation Convent building on Douglas Street transformed into a centre for learning and charity in keeping with the ethos of Nano.

You can find CorkIDoodleDo on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, in any of the stockists mentioned above and on their newly launched Etsy ecommerce store.

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