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UA Alumni: Lorraine Cleary

Lorraine was a Highly Commended Entrant for the Visual Arts and the Media Arts categories in 2014.

After earning a First-Class Honours Degree in Fine Art (Sculpture & Combined Media) from Limerick School of Art & Design in 2014, she went on and achieved a First-Class Honours Masters Degree in Interactive Media from the University of Limerick in 2015.

What are you doing now and what has happened since the award?

Since the award I have had numerous exhibitions including Rural Shame at Customs House Gallery, Westport, Co. Mayo and my first solo exhibition Conversation with [my] Mother; at The Alley Arts Centre, Co. Tyrone.

In 2019 I completed two courses under ADAPT Limerick: Awareness Training: Understanding Domestic Abuse and Understanding & Responding to Domestic Abuse. In 2020 I participated in a Curatorial Residency; Clonmel Arts Centre with visiting Curator Anne Mulee and in 2018 I was awarded a two-Week Residency in The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Monaghan as part of Tipperary Artists Awards.

To date, I have been featured in several publications including MASS FemDominate; Haus-RestZine and Ryall Contemporary also featured my work as part of their Artist Focus.

Where do your interests lie?

Columbian artist Doris Salcedo is among the artists that inspire me. Salcedo’s work gives form to pain, fear, trauma and loss; she produces handcrafted sculptures and site-specific installations that encourage individual and collective mourning.

Another inspiration is Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky who had the ability to see beauty in the every day; he had a unique understanding of time and through a single point perspective he mimicked a likeness of the real world on screen.

Philosopher Henri Bergson’s research into how the past, present and future collide, has been a constant source of inspiration to me. Bergson used the term “virtual” in the ontological sense to denote temporal qualities in relation to the movement of time.

I am motivated by my own experience with domestic abuse, after spending years in an abusive marriage. I make work that adapts to the gallery space, and by viewing it in correlation with the space of the home I try to bring the private out into the public in a move to open up a discourse around the hidden injustices of the female within the home. Victims of domestic abuse can find themselves isolated and subjected to persistent rituals of cruelty, which ultimately leads to fragile emotional states. Those that find themselves in this situation question their own sanity and develop low self-esteem. Fear and anxiety are disorders that arise as a result of abuse.

I love to read, I will read anything. I especially love books written by women. I also love to go camping although Irish weather is not the finest but on a good day Irish scenery is stunning.

What do you like the most about what you do?

My work is important in bringing awareness around trauma and the difficulties associated with it. It has helped me to overcome a lot. I don’t think I would be here today if I wasn’t able to express myself through art, it is no doubt a form of therapy for me. I do feel my work is important in that it acts as a talking point for issues within the domestic space that have been treated as taboo in the past. Domestic abuse has become more open in recent times, especially with the introduction of coercive control legislation.

France introducing psychological violence legalisation in 2010, Britain criminalised coercive control in December 2015 and Ireland introduced coercive control legislation in January 2019. This legislation highlights the insidious unseen aspects of domestic abuse.

Has receiving an award for your hard work helped?

The award is very prestigious and looks well on a CV/Résumé. Receiving an award can raise your confidence in both yourself and in your work; it helps to motivate you especially in times of self-doubt. Although I am a high functioning individual my confidence was very low due to years of abuse, being shortlisted as a Highly Commended Entrant in two categories in 2014 increased my confidence and self-esteem. It validated my work and encouraged me to keep going forward.

Why should students submit their work?

Go for it! Students should definitely submit to the UA Awards, it encourages you to carry on in your chosen field, you can make connections with more like-minded people. It is a prestigious achievement and your work will be shared on a global level.

You can find Lorraine on Instagram