How I Got Into Art College

Hello Newsletter-Man. How are you? My name is Paul. So…okay…I’ll tell you this to start off with. I had a tremendous time doing my MFA there at The Burren College of Art. The Burren has a whole vast, gay, beautiful grass and rain drop infused energy to it…so it is hard not to be happy there.

It was weird the way that I discovered the college in the first place. I had been working in the Midlands during the summer of 2005 with a care facility for downtrodden humans. Through a series of fantastical coincidences, whose details would, in an ironic twerk, bore the backside off you, I ended up being asked to go on holidays with a couple of the lads or clients or whatever you want to call them, to Ballyvaughan. Yes, that’s right…to Ballyvaughan. (That’s my second paragraph and I feel this is going well so far)

There was another care worker type person with me – a bald man who was shaped like a hay bale. Because we were both fairly incompetent at our jobs and couldn’t cook very well, we decided to order many of our dinners at the what-do-you-call-it-grand-central hotel there in the middle of the village. We would ring the hotel and tell them what we wanted and they would prepare it and call us back when it was almost ready. Then I used to head down on foot to collect it.

Well, whether you are willing to believe it or not, on one of the evenings, the bellboy at the hotel rang and told us to come and collect our meals long before they were even nearly ready.

“Oh sorry,” said the receptionist as I arrived. “Would you like to sit at the bar like a lal-yo for about fifteen minutes? You can have a complimentary cup of tea.”

Well I did…I went and waited at the bar. While I did so a barperson said, “Oh, you look like you are here for the Art College.” But I said “No, I don’t know what Art College you are talking about.” She said, “the Art College which is just up the road.” I said, “I don’t know nothing about no Art College up the road.” The next day, myself and my holiday companions paid a visit to this so called Art College…and I asked a beautiful, thin wristed lady who was working there, to tell me about how to apply for a place. Well, lo and behold, if she didn’t start handing me forms and telling me that I would need to have them filled out and back to her by the end of the week. The poor dear didn’t realize that I was only making a casual enquiry for goodness sake.

I am like totally hard wired to the subliminal stream of the like collective unconscious, and have always therefore tended to invest a lot of stock-cubes in coincidence and fate and stuff…and I was watching a fierce amount of a TV programme called LOST back then…so when ere’ confronted by a bunch of events that could at all be interpreted as a message from the universe…or The Island…I would do my best ensure that those fortuities would culminate in a semi-logical conclusion…so that I could feel special…a bit like John Locke on the show.

Anyway…blah blah blah…etc…and the next thing I knew, about a week later I had enrolled…and received a scholarship no less…to attend The Burren College Of Art. I suddenly found myself amongst the odd community of students and teachers. There was plenty of weirdness, which was mainly good, though sometimes unpleasant, though sometimes informative, though sometimes just unpleasant, though ultimately wonderful.

But now…I understand that the most important thing for me to start blasting on about is what I have done since leaving the course.

My MFA has certainly had its share of purely practical benefits. Without it I could not teach in a third level institution, which is one of the things I do and have enjoyed doing since I started doing it…so that is quite tremendous.

What else now? Wait till I think…

Yes. I facilitate projects with all sorts of groups of people…and we make things together. One of my favouritest to date involved producing a book with a group of fifteen children aged between 6 and 12 at Luan Gallery in Athlone. The book, entitled ‘The Stuck Hedgehog’ is comprised of a series of short stories devised by the childer…with a little help from me.

I also make performances and poems and stories. I show them off at spoken word venues and theatres and libraries and schools and festivals and gatherings all over the country…though especially in Dublin, where there does be a real appetite and audience for that there sort of thing.

Another yolk that I do…which is likely to be of more interest to those of you who make visual art than some of the other bits I’ve mentioned…is sell my work at markets. I mean markets made of stalls and merchants and people milling about looking for food and treats. The viability of this option does perhaps depend on the type, scale and cost of the kinds of things you make…but I have found it to be a very lovely, pragmatic, interesting and thought expanding way to observe people interacting with my work…and it helps to make my making more sustainable.

Okay…well…I feel as though we are coming close to approaching our word count now. If you would like to know more about what I do have a click over to on th’internet. You can send me a message from there if you wish…and I will probably respond.

Here are a few phrases that I thought I might get to include in the body of this this this this, but I never quite got to…so I leave them here like the Bonus Material you might see in a movie menu.

Basically I like to do whatever is handy from day to day.

My life is one arthritic experiment after another.

It is important not to be too troubled in life…especially at the end…or even early, during or middle.

Salt dust in the ocean of salt and water.

Marry well.

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