What led you to become an artist?
Even as a child growing up I had an interest in paint. My father was a painter and decorator by trade so I was always surrounded by paint and how it was professionally applied. I just loved investigating the old half empty tins of paint and how it produced layers of skin which could be peeled off from the lids.
The way paint could change and become something else was really interesting for me and still is. Throughout my journey in Art College I went from figurative to abstract painting, but for my final year I wanted to strip everything back in terms of my work so I focused primarily on the aspect and substance of paint.
Who have been some of your biggest influences and why?
Some of my influences that I often looked at throughout college and even still would be the likes of Karla Black. For me her work appeals for her use of materiality of both solid and fragile forms and how she builds them up and create temporary structures and forms. Alexis Harding would have been another artist I would have looked at a lot throughout college. I came across one of his works when I was in Liverpool at the Walker Art Gallery. Just its pure scale and painterly process to his work just caught my eye straight away.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I’m researching and planning for my next body of work. I’ve been sketching up plans to take a more sculptural approach to painting. In my degree pieces the work had a singular sense to them. The work I want to create now has many approaches to it, I’m attempting to build my own visual language by creating different methods and approaches to the field of painting.
I’ve been looking at how I can manipulate coats of dried sheets of acrylic and stretch them over cut out ester foam forms. Once the sheets have been applied I add different motifs such as stitch different sheets together with acrylic string, silicone shapes and apply gestural markings across it.
Notes from Sketchbook, 2016
Tell me about your working process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
Within my work the process normally start off with rough sketches of forms that I’m trying to achieve. While trying to take these plans into action often accidents occur which can result in another idea or piece being created from it. When making work I’m constantly learning and creating new motifs and structures. I am welcoming mistakes and issues to my work to let it evolve and grow from my original ideas. When making work I’m constantly questioning how I can further investigate my material practice and how I can push its limits and boundaries.
Grotesque Beauty, Acrylic, Oil and Silicone on Canvas Fragment, 5.5 X 7.5 in, 2015
Could you describe the environment in which most of your work takes place and does this in any way effect your practice?
Within the space that I work in it has a sense of orderly chaos. Even though my studio looks from the outside to be unorganized, I feel that this is where ideas begin to evolve from. It could be discarded torn up paper in the corner of the studio or marking of paint on the wall that I can make a motif from. I often take photos of my studio where my pieces hang when I’m working on them. It’s not the pieces that I’m taking photos of but the excess marks around them.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
My work on a whole deals with paint and how it can be stretched and manipulated with different materials to attempt to give different outcomes from my investigations and processes. I often use materials such as silicone, gloss, ester foam and latex mixed with paint. I want to use nontraditional mediums associated with painting so I can create different manners of style from its materiality been used. Materiality in my work is key, it is a major part of my work to question how can paint be transformed or even broken down with different materials.
Act Natural, Acrylic, Silicone on Ester Foam, 5 X 4.5 in, 2015
Within the wider ‘art’ field do you feel the type of work you make is important today and why?
When people view my work I want them to question it instead of viewing it as a singular aspect to it. Questions like what it is made from, what is it purpose, and overall is it a painting or a sculpture. So yes I feel like my work can be important within the Irish art scene.
How do you feel online art networks/ communities like the South East Cultural Centre could better support you and your work?
For myself online art networks are hugely important to me because I can keep in the know about what is happening across Ireland and abroad and what opportunities and events are taking place which I would have not known about otherwise.
The South East Cultural Centre has given me the platform to show and display my work to an audience I would have not known about if it wasn’t for their website. It has helped me immensely with networking with other artists and seeing what work is being currently created and also getting feedback on my work as well.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’ve recently set up a website with some of my degree works on www.ciaranbowen.com, also I’ve created two Instagram accounts one which documents my work www.instagram.com/ciaranbowenartist/and the second account is a sort of visual notebook www.instagram.com/ciaranb_notebook/