Martin Ireland

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Interview

Do you have a favourite artist? 

I have a collection of artist I like who grabs my attention from time to time, depending on what project I’m working on.

What does ‘art’ meant to you?

Art, what does it mean? It means craft, plus ideas I suppose.

Is it important that art should be beautiful?

For me it is. It should be pleasurable. It’s what people do as a ‘leisure’ activity for most people’.

Do you work with other people?

Yes, when I’m running creative workshops or art projects for charities.

How does that work? 

Well, usually I design something, show the organisers and then the thing unfolds. 

Is there a difference between an artist and a craftsman? 

Artists can be craftsmen. They can also be piss-artists and produce rubbish called conceptual art, which is little more than shit on a string because some art tutor at some time in their art college education has told them to be controversial.

How much skill goes into the work behind your art and how much goes into the actual making of it?

What is skill and ideas? Ideas that perhaps have a kind of currency in the national conversation.  I try to interject something into that that because I’m interested in that. It’s a hard burden now being an artist because not only do you have to be good at making the things, but also be good at having the ideas and all this sort of stuff like promotion and communication. It’s a multi-level career.’

So if art is to be any good, does it need to be skillful?

I think art needs to be extraordinary. I want to go into a gallery and I want to see something special. I don’t want to go into a gallery and see something ordinary that happens to be in an art gallery.

How do come to work creatively in the first place? Was it by accident?

It was pretty much by accident 

Now you deal in this exhibition with class and taste. What does taste mean to you?

Taste is how people choose the things they have around them: I mean their clothes, their furniture, the house they live in, what they eat, what they read, what they drive, which is incredibly influenced by class. Our taste is most influenced when we don’t think about it.  When we think we are having a ‘natural’ choice or being an individual, that’s often when we’re most influenced by our history, our childhood and within the society in which we grew up in. 

Is there such a thing as good taste?

Within each tribe, there is good taste, but the overarching good and bad taste, there isn’t. 

Do you see yourself as part of a class?

No. I work for a living making pictures and teaching other people to be visual too. 

Do you set out sometimes in your work to shock with some of the images you use and some of the themes you use?

I don’t know. Shock is a bit of a tired old word to use. I want people to be interested.  I think you’ve got to puncture people’s conservative complacency and assumptions they make. I like having things revealed to me, and so I hope I can pass that on to the audience.

Do you read or watch the media about you?

Not really.  I don’t really read the reviews and stuff, mainly very positive, because they can influence things about myself, and that can be difficult.

What do you do outside of work?

I cycle, I go to the cinema and theatre, I watch TV. (Laughs)