A CORK artist with a unique muse is carving out a successful career for himself, selling out multiple shows.
Emmet Brickley, 27, from the Skehard Road, has impressed top people in Cork’s art sphere with his unique and vibrant paintings inspired by Google Maps.
"The main series of paintings I’ve been working on for the past few years look at Google street view as the source material," Emmet told.
"It’s strange where it spawned from. I was just using Google Maps one day and I was suddenly very drawn to this kind of vulnerable, candid experience of the world.
"Going from social media and that curated world on the internet over to the app, displaying its own version of the real world- it brings up a lot of ideas about the impact of the digital age.
"There’s a vulnerability to it, the candid look at the world and the gestures. But that’s not clear to a passer-by looking at my paintings which is nice," he explained.
Painting in a studio on Singer’s Corner overlooking the bustling Cork streets below, it’s clear that people, their vulnerabilities and idiosyncrasies are a big source of inspiration to Emmet and there’s an honesty that consolidates his thoughtful and cohesively human paintings.
"They’re emotional paintings. I’m not trying to do minimalist art. We’re getting into this coded world so it’s nice to put in some emotion into things," he said.
Inspired by his grandmother and grandaunt, who both became painters after they retired, Emmet says that his life is all the richer for pursuing his passion.
"There is no day off, but that’s what I love. Painting is a constant problem-solving activity too and it’s so rewarding when something works out.
"I’m not really myself in the time I’ve taken off from painting in the past so I don't think there's any good in me not doing it.
"The more I educate myself the more confident I become in what I’m doing I guess so it just fuels itself in that way."
After leaving school, Emmet studied at the Crawford College of Art & Design, which he lauds for giving him the tools to now pursue art as a career.
"I’m grateful for the time I spent in Crawford as I left ready to start the next stage. I’m educating myself now more than ever which I learned to do from my time there," he said.
Emmet’s degree show in his final year was a pivotal moment for the artist in terms of putting himself on the map and getting noticed by top industry people in Cork.
"It was my first time exhibiting work. Talking to complete strangers that genuinely care about your art is an amazing feeling.
"My first two paintings were purchased by the Director of the Glucksman for the UCC Permanent Collection and the rest of the show sold out then so it was a big confidence boost.
"My second show was a near sell-out show too. Most of them were bought before it opened by collectors so that makes you feel like you’re on the right path," he said.
Following that, Emmet set off to Berlin with his girlfriend and undertook an apprenticeship with an artist.
It was there that Emmet started to believe that he could make a viable income from going it alone and focusing on his passion.
"It was great to meet someone who is living off their art. We are in very different worlds relating to it but he had very valuable insights into the practical sides of an art career.
"He told me to keep doing what I’m doing and that came at the perfect time," Emmet explained.
"There is definitely a view of an artist as being a millionaire or broke- but there’s a thriving middle ground out there.
"Maybe not here in Ireland, but it does exist, I saw that living in Berlin for the past two years and going to galleries.
"I just want to keep doing what I believe in and I think it’ll work out in the long run. For now, my focus is on the quality of the painting," he added.
Opening on Friday, March 6 at 6-8 pm Emmet will have his latest exhibition in LHQ Gallery, next to the County Hall Library.
"I’d definitely recommend the opening, especially for things like date nights," he laughed.
"It’s great for conversation and a good way to have a laugh afterwards if you’ve different opinions of what you saw.
"On my first date with my girlfriend, we went to an art exhibition after we met. We had a great time, quietly insulting the things we didn’t like and praising the ones we did like."
With a kind of high-brow elitism often pinned to the art world, Emmet is encouraging people to change their opinions toward art exhibitions.
"Some people want that kind of elitism around it, but for me, it doesn’t make sense. People regularly go to gigs without any qualms.
"Likewise, people should be more open and start going to art exhibitions. You don’t have to be an expert and everyone’s opinion is valid," he said.
With the courage to dream coupled with a steely work ethic, the future looks very promising for Emmet.
"The ultimate highlight is still not being able to sleep from excitement after an exhausting day painting and something comes together better than expected," he said. "It’s a privilege to do it."
Additional paintings by Emmet Brickley can be viewed on his website, https://www.emmetbrickley.com/