Alumni Stories - Kevin Gaynor

‘The years I spent at NCAD gave me a space to focus on the socially-active sculptural methods that I'm still using today.’

Name:                  Kevin Gaynor

Current Career:   Visual Artist/Sculptor

Graduation Year: 2018

Discipline(s):       Sculpture and Expanded Practice

Location:              Dublin/Berlin

What career path did you want to follow as a child? 

Like most ‘arty’ kids, I've been drawing since I realised that was something I could do. But as a child I was never one to draw landscapes or still life – I focused more on what I could get away with. Of course, a pen, paint and a pencil were the beginning of figuring out how to put ideas on the page, but it wasn't until I began to watch films that I got a sense of what I wanted to do. 

From then on, I became obsessed with film and film-making as a way to not only express a thought, but to use immediacy to reach as many people as possible. I felt as though the screen was the last barrier between the art and audience, which led me to remove it through the sculptural practice I use today.


Why did you decide to study at National College of Art & Design?

Studying cinematography in Ballyfermot College of Further Education gave me the lens-based skills I still use today, but it was at the end of year assessment when a tutor reviewed my work and said: "Why aren't you in NCAD?" that I realised that he was right. That gave me the clarity I needed and I began to work on my portfolio the next day. 

At the beginning of my degree, I was sceptical of the idea of ‘teaching art’, and still am. But even through this scepticism, the years I spent at NCAD gave me a space to focus on the socially-active sculptural methods that I'm still using today.


How did you develop your career towards your current job / practice?

As an Irish artist using techniques that are uncommon, I have engaged with institutions and residency programmes throughout the country, which have facilitated the development of my practice since NCAD. Galway Arts Centre, 126 Artist Run Gallery, Platform Arts, MART, Pallas and Engage Studios have all been vital in the development of my current practice and, after becoming the recipient of the Arts Council's Next Generation Award last year, I have been lucky enough to facilitate my genre for both the Irish public and our international community. I think that my style of technique will prosper and represent Ireland internationally as the Irish artistic landscape becomes more diverse.


What is the one experience during your time at NCAD that has informed you most in your career / work to date?

During my time at NCAD I engaged in a programme entitled “In Public, In Particular”, in which the Sculpture Departments of three European Universities engaged within the communities that they’re slap-bang in the middle of. Although I had a future practice in mind, that project forced me out of the confines of myself and pushed me into the international practice I use today.


If you were chatting with current NCAD students today what is the one piece of advice you would offer?

You know best.


Given the global turmoil and change accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, what in your opinion are the opportunities for those in creative industries?

I think Covid has put a stopper on most artists’ plans over the last year and into the next 12 months and, unfortunately, our political infrastructures have left us in the lurch. Thankfully, the country seems to be filled and fuelled by the creatives in the community who run art studios and galleries. But until artwork is seen as real work, opportunities are always going to be slim. If Ireland wants to continue to be seen as a capital of culture, it needs to capitalise on its artists.


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