WHEN a Cork man went went for a weekend to Galway, little did he know he’d meet the love of his life, who would inspire his new collection of prints celebrating Irish cinema.
That’s exactly what happened to Ray Hurley when his friends took him to Galway back in 2011, shortly after his mom died from ovarian cancer.
The award-winning graphic designer had returned from Australia to be with his mother Bernadette in the later stages of her illness. He remembers her as a ‘very powerful individual’ who sadly lost her fight with the disease.
Ray’s pals took him to Galway in a bid to lift his spirits and it was there his path crossed a friend of a friend, Lisa Allen, and an instant connection was made.
“We talked nonsense, she laughed at my bad jokes, and we drank copious amounts of tea,” he fondly remembers. In the ensuing weeks and months, they continued to spend fun-filled weekends between Galway and Cork.
Harley Davidson famously used the phrase ‘go big or go home’ in their advertising material, Ray said, and that was his mantra for impressing Lisa. A civil servant, he describes her as “a highly creative person, published poet, intelligent, funny and thoughtful”.
So Ray used his design background to create a brand identity for her poetry. Next, he created a website for her work. Then he was stumped. So, in his own words, he ‘had to get truly creative’ and he made a personalised album of their story. And, going next level again, he used his passion for Irish cinema and illustration to create prints of Lisa’s favourite movies, including The Birds and Sleepers.
Over a decade later the couple are still together, parents to almost five-year-old Nia, and the prints are still hanging in their living room. In fact, they were the inspiration for Ray’s new business which was born over lockdown.
The family moved from Cork to Dublin last July after some business opportunities had arisen for his design consultancy Opus Creative, which he set up with Gareth Barry in 2015.
Like so many others, unable to indulge in his usual hobbies including soccer, he found himself with extra time on his hands. One particular lockdown evening, while flicking through the prints he had created for Lisa way back in 2012, he started doodling and rediscovered his passion for illustration.
“After Nia would go to bed in the evening, I started drawing, and was inspired to create a collection that celebrates Irish cinema. It was great to have fun and be creative outside of my work.
“Lisa encouraged me to put the designs out there and the reaction has been great,” he said.
He has created prints inspired by films (War Of The Buttons, Butcher Boy, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Intermission, and Once are included and more), Cork-isms, and Irish nostalgia. Customers so far have been from Australia, the UK, and Switzerland, as well as all over Ireland.
“There’s a bit of devilment involved with lots of them,” he says. “For such a small country, we have produced literature that is the envy of the world. And in my opinion, Irish produced films don’t get the recognition they deserve.
“In some small part, I would love for people to rediscover these gems and feel inspired and proud to be Irish.”