The South West College recently launched the Foundation Diploma End of Year Show, which will run until Saturday 28th May. The exhibition features students from the Ulster University Foundation Degree in Design, showcasing the students work in a variety of different disciplines, and including work such as Sadhbh Gracey-Kettles piece, ‘Imagination’ which was winner of the Ken Ramsey award, and Helen Jarosz piece, ‘The Truth That Lies Within’ which received the First Trust Bank award. Art Lecturer at the college, Lousise Donnelly, said, “The students have put a lot of effort into these pieces on display and I am so proud of their work. Some of these pieces are of an exceptional standard and highlights the natural abilities of the students. Their potential is unlimited and I have no doubt I will see the names of these students appear in galleries and exhibitions throughout the globe.”
In aspiring to have their work in galleries and exhibitions in the future, students can look to Omagh artist, Comhghall Casey, for inspiration. Casey studied art through further education, first studying Foundation Art, then completing a three year BA Hons Fine Art course. Casey says these courses gave him the option to do exactly what he wanted to do, saying: ‘I never seriously considered any other route after school. I studied Art, Maths and Physics for A-Level with and eye to architecture, but that was more to satisfy careers officers who wanted me to keep my options open. That was OK because I enjoyed Maths and Physics anyway and found they weren’t too demanding. My two older sisters attended art college, and art was what I was best at, that was where I was headed.’
Since then, Casey has gone on to have solo exhibitions in Belfast, Dublin and London, as well as having his work displayed in the National Portrait gallery in London and Edinburgh. Casey alludes to how his time spent formally studying art allowed him to develop his craft and introduced him to the new aspects of the artistic world, saying: It ‘offered me time to work and think about art, but it was really the other artists I met in college and some of the individual tutors who were most important in terms of opening up opportunities and building confidence.’
Casey acknowledges other key moments which helped him along in his career. ‘When I left college, I was on the dole for six months, painting in my bedroom and applying for jobs without any particular plan, (when) a local art dealer in Belfast offered to buy any paintings I produced. This was the event which enabled me to work full time as an artist, and in the 10 years I worked with this dealer I was able to gain skills and establish myself independently.’
Through this time, and in the years since, Casey has had no doubt that studying art at college provided a suitable platform for his career. ‘I think art college gave me four years to develop and an introduction to art circles…I got to know people and organisations through immersion in thinking about art. If I hadn’t had that, I would probably have gone in to some other job and not had the time to dedicate to developing my painting.
The SWCollege Foundation Diploma End of Year Show is on in the Higher Bridges Gallery, Clinton Centre, Enniskillen until Saturday 28th May 2016, Tuesday-Friady 10am-4pm, Saturday 11am -3pm.
Comhghall Casey’s ‘Retrospective Exhibition’ runs until the 28th May 2016 in the Strule Arts Centre Gallery, Omagh.