Artist selling lifetime of work in bid to buy home after being turned down for mortgage

An artist whose work features in the collections of UCC, the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork and the OPW is selling her paintings and sketch books in a bid to buy a small home
Artist selling lifetime of work in bid to buy home after being turned down for mortgage

Olivia Kelleher

An artist whose work features in the collections of University College Cork, the Crawford Art Gallery and the OPW is selling her vast amount of paintings and sketch books in a bid to buy a small home.

In addition to her artwork, Eileen Healy (54) is a part-time lecturer at the Crawford College of Art and Design in Cork where she teaches painting and life drawing. She also performs in bands.

However, the bank recently deemed her living too precarious to qualify for a mortgage.

The native of Youghal, Co Cork had to leave her rented home of 20 years in Cork city last year and was not given any explanation for the decision by her landlord. She has found other accommodation but is worried for her future.

Ms Healy says she is keen to move out of the rental market as she is getting increasingly concerned about security in old age.

"The bank were nice to me (when I applied) but at the end of the day the Central Bank makes the decision. It is not even about not getting a mortgage. It is that the rents are so unaffordable," she says.

"I know friends my age who have ended up in homeless shelters and I think 'is that me further down the line?' It is scary.

"It is in the back of my mind every day. The fear of it. I fear where I will be in three years time when the lease of where I now rent is gone."

Ms Healy says the rental market is so competitive that people in her situation constantly feel anxiety about the possibility of a landlord deciding to sell a property or upping the rent. She finds the rental market in Cork city to be particularly daunting at the moment.

Eileen Healy is selling a lifetime of her artwork.

"When you look at the market it is almost a given that you are sharing with strangers. The lack of choice is heartbreaking. It is a waste of time going on Daft.ie. You will be queueing up with one hundred people for the one place. And then you have the prices," she says.

Ms Healy stresses that "gone are the days" when people could find a one-bedroom flat through word of mouth, from someone who knew someone who was moving out of a reasonably priced rental.

"Now it’s a case of if the rent is doubled, and I get evicted, can I share at my age? Will I have to share with five people just to meet the rent? It’s like going back to the ‘80s all over again, except now it’s a hundred times more expensive," she says.

Ms Healy says she needs secure housing and studio space. She currently works out of the Backwater Studios in Cork but as it is partly funded by the Arts Council, it is moved around to different artists and her tenancy is up at the end of the year.

Ms Healy needs a home with studio space.

Her target is to sell enough of her lifetime of work to buy her own small home where she is no longer at the mercy of "increasing and insane rents."

"This is a city that I call home and into which I've poured and invested so much creativity over a span of 40 years. I could have my own studio at home. I have a mountain of work."

Ms Healy is predominantly a figurative artist, who works mainly in pastel and oil.

“I really enjoy working from life. I am attracted to the immediacy and freshness of recreating in my own language what is in front of me. I work with models who provide me with the chance to express my artistic language through them," she says.

"Drawing from life is for me a way of life and the backbone of my work. It keeps my work alive."

Ms Healy has taken part in many residencies in Ireland including at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, the Burren Art College, Cillriallig and Sirius Art Centre. She also completed a residency at the highly acclaimed Art Students League, New York, where she created a new body of work which was showcased in an exhibition at Vytlacil Campus in upstate New York.

She graduated from the Crawford College of Art and Design in 1988. She has displayed her work in exhibitions in Dublin, Berlin and New York and has performed in bands such as The Polskadots, The Ladybugs and The Critters.

Information on her artwork can be found here.

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