My journey with art took me to the heart of Cork city

Artist Kevin Callaghan talks about his move to Cork, family inspiration and travelling the world with his work
My journey with art took me to the heart of Cork city
Artist Kevin Callaghan.

Tell us about yourself:

I completed an MA at the Royal College of Art in 2013, I have a multi-disciplinary approach to my practice. I currently live in Cork and have my studio at The National Sculpture Factory. My current project is Condie — A Condie wall mounted design will turn any interior or exterior wall into a work of art. Condie’s wall mounts are laser cut in aluminum and hand folded and sprayed in the studio, in Cork city. View the collection online at

Where were you born?

In Co Donegal in a place called Barnesmore Gap, about 10 km from Donegal town, so I guess that makes me a bit of a bogger. I left there for Derry when I was 17, that’s where I started down the art trail.

I guess I really found what I wanted at that age, and was determined to make it a career. I’m 35 now and I’m still doing it. I came to Cork first in 2004 to start a ceramic course.

Where do you live?

I live in Blackpool, in a lovely house with three lovely Irish people, I spent five years in London, where I did my Masters at The Royal College of Art. I moved my studio back about a year ago and set up Condie in the heart of Cork city.


Youngest of four and my parents Peter and Annie. My dad is a building contractor, I worked the sites with him as a kid, I think I learned from him through constructing.

My brother has a great company called Sylvia Build in West Cork so there’s a creative streak in the family for sure. I have two sisters, one’s a dancer, the other a nurse.

Best friend?

I would say I don’t have a bestie, but lots of good ones. I’m fairly outgoing.

Earliest childhood memory?

Let me see, I think I was about two and a half, I was in a little play pen beside the garage outside, it was summer, I was annoyed because I could see my brother cycling up and down the street, I think I wanted to be on that bike.

Person you most admire?

Well, it’s not the Dalai Lama anyway. I really like Bill Murray, just because he’s just very funny, I’d love to have a pint with him. A friend of mine in London was hanging out with him a few weeks ago; she said he was great fun. I admire different people for different things.

Person who most irritates you?

People who keep saying they’re going to do something but don’t do it. People like Donald Trump, Theresa May, whattobe’s, the list goes on.

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why?

A Socialist version of Micheal O’Leary, or someone with a bit more forward thinking and a lot more open-minded.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

I have a few of them, one that stands out was when we went on family holidays in the summer months, in my early teens. I got tonsillitis and a fever and spent most of the holidays in bed sick, while everyone else was at the beach or pool eating prawn cocktails.

Favourite TV programme?

At the moment I’m really enjoying Idiot Abroad with Karl Pilkington, I get a good laugh out of him, but the old classics, Black Books with Dylan Moran and Rik Mayall in Bottom.

Favourite radio show?

I listen to mainly online radio stations these days, like NTS.

Artist Kevin Callaghan
Artist Kevin Callaghan

Your signature dish if cooking?

I think its probably Prawn Linguine, red chill and garlic sliced very thin, spaghetti, salt, pepper, fishtail prawns, a little bit of spring onions sliced at an angle, small bit of butter, as it’s on the pan, just add a bit of rocket and basil and parmesan at the end. Very tasty.

Favourite restaurant?

There are a few places I go to in London, Stoke Newington, up from Dalston where I lived called Vino Viva, cocktails and tapas, very chilled and cheap.

Last book you read?

Philip K. Dick, The best Of Philip K. Dick, I grew up reading sci-fi.

Best book you read?

The Door of Perception, Aldous Huxley, I think.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Aphex Twin, 26 Mixes For Cash.

Favourite song?

At the moment it’s Prefab Sprout — I Remember That.

One person you would like to see in concert?

I would love to see Lali Puna live, they’re a French group, but they don’t really play live, other than that I would like to see Prefab Sprout.

Do you have a pet?

I don’t, but I’d love to have a dog, or a pet owl. I’d really love to have a pet fox, however they’re very complex and should be outside in the wild, they have a lot of energy... so sweet though.

Morning person or night owl?

My best working hours are from 12 to 6pm, that when I get most of my work done in the studio, but I normally work from 10 to 7ish.

Your proudest moment?

My proudest moment is probably showing in the Victoria and Albert Museum with Unknown Fields Division and Tody Smith in 2015, on the Rare Earthenware exhibition.

The V&A took the work into their permanent collection in 2016. That work continues to get a lot of coverage worldwide, with articles in the likes of The Guardian, The New York Times and Dezeen.

Spendthrift or saver?

Spendthrift, but starting to learn, slowly.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

The main thing would be the roads, and having to wait for ages for the lights to change to walk across the road.

And of course there is a serious problem with our housing.

What makes you happy?

That’s a big question. I think being comfortable in my career, where I have a good enough income, getting away to see the world and travelling with my work.

What else are you up to at the moment?

I am showing in the Doswell Gallery in Rosscarbery from November 11 to December 3, and in London in early 2018.

I have an Artist Residency starting in Glasgow in January for three months.

And I’m finishing a new series of wall pieces, and the next Condie product will be launching in December.

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