’ve been making lists and lining things up all my life, so making lists of words into shapes is an ideal work/life balance for me.
I’ve made all the Irish international rugby players since 2000 into a prop forward and my favourite 100 pubs into a pint glass. Coming up with ideas is the best bit – it takes lots of Baileys and Toblerone. It was during one of those muse & booze-filled nights that I started the Manky Map, a map of Ireland made up of our vernacular sayings.
I’m an English and drama teacher by training – I taught in Newpark for 13 years – and you can see a lot of literature and a love of language in my work. Over a number of years I studied Photoshop and other graphic packages and love all the fiddling around with images and typography.
I’d left teaching to be at home with the kids and when the youngest chap, the one in the picture with me here, started play school in 2013, I started The Word Bird, making customised word art. At this stage I’ve made pictures for every important milestone in people’s lives, from births and christenings, communions, through all the birthdays, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, and one even went to a funeral.
Above is the map which is so much fun as well as documenting many of our unique vernacular sayings, some quite old now and not so widely used. I’d made it originally as a present for my dad, who is a real Dub, but I had to clean it up a bit when it came to selling it. It’s the single most widely travelled print out of my collection – there are toilet walls in over 30 countries with
one of these.
The Guitar of Irish Bands illustrates well how I enjoy list making and then turning it into a shape. I know every Irish band isn’t in it, but I put in all the more main ones who’ve recorded one
album or more. I print these as they’re ordered so it’s no problem taking a band out to pop in another if someone’s favourite band isn’t there.
The Eiffel Tower here was done as a commission recently as a gift for a couple who’d got engaged there. It turned out really well and was a great shaped building to work with. I use silhouettes
of shapes and put the words in whereever there’s a dark area. With the silhouette form in mind I came up with a range of iconic characters from children’s literature and here’s the one from L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Text from the novel fills the silhouetted characters and a silhouetted shadow of a character or symbol appears in one of the corners. I’ve enjoyed these a lot, children’s classic texts are a world you can always go back to and enjoy a root around.