Artist of the Month – Kate O’Shea

Kate O’Shea is an artist with a broad social practice that includes printmaking, sculpture, curating, the production of “social spaces,” collective food making and sharing, and publishing. Her work stems from a concern for contemporary social structures and the fractures within them.

Kate established her first social space at the age of 19 when, after dropping out of an Architecture course, she converted an old farmhouse and barn located outside of Kenmare, Co. Kerry, into a ‘social space’, NomNom Café and Gallery. She ran this space for seven years with Aoife Scanlon. In its final year, NomNom Cafe culminated with NomShtock; an Arts, Music and Well‐being festival that took place during the summer of 2014. This festival was co-produced with Emer Casey and Aoife Scanlon.

She graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design in 2015 and has been developing her work since then both in Ireland and overseas. She has an MA by Research in Printmaking as a Space for Solidarity and Dialogue.

Kate has co-produced numerous community events including ‘Volxkuche’ (The People’s Kitchen) at Sample Studios, Cork, between 2015 and 2017, and two community events entitled ‘The People’s Kitchen, Limerick’ after that. She initiated this project with Darren Kirwan as a way to bring together the community that surrounded Sample Studios in Cork. The title ‘Volxkuche’ draws on a 1980s DIY movement in Germany where food was given out at cost price. These events use food, conversation and performance as a platform for social solidarity. ‘The People’s Kitchen Limerick’ was produced with Lizzy O’ Connell in partnership with ‘The Urban Co-Op’ and ‘The Gaff.’

Some of the other projects that Kate has collaborated on include The Limerick Spring Festival of Politics and Ideas. She has contributed to spoken word and printmaking workshops with Sarah Clancy; Rumpus zine, Stanzas zine; and pop-up printmaking with Limerick Printmakers. She also co-produced “Art Architecture Activism” with Eve Olney in Cork.

Kate is part of ‘LP at 20,’ an exhibition celebrating twenty years of Limerick Printmakers. From December 2019 to February 2020, the exhibition was on display at the Luan Gallery here in Athlone.

Kate has also founded the independent publishing company Durty Books, with graphic designer Victoria Brunetta. Their first release, published in 2018, is entitled Durty Words.

Durty Words is an invitation to make a space for dialogue, solidarity, resistance and creation through the medium of print. In 2016, we began the journey of making this book by asking people to respond to the relevance of Anarchist thought today. The title alludes to the fact that anarchism, along with other theories and practices that seek alternatives to capitalism, are often misunderstood. There are fractures within how we organise for a better world; it is important to recognise these, and therefore we set out to create a space for debate that is built on respect. By bringing together 134 contributors from different backgrounds from all over the world, we aim to begin to map the resonances and dissonances across diverse social movements. In this time of great social injustice, protest is necessary, but there is more to resistance than protest. We are interested in the space that opens up when we create a platform for building alternatives to that which we protest.”

The second release of Durty Books is Direct Democracy, Context, Society, Individuality by Yavor Tarinski, edited by Eve Olney.

I interviewed Kate last month; click on the link below to hear what she had to say!