An Interview with Caoimhe O’Prey

A real beauty for you today. Prepare for colour, and bags and bags of talent!

My name is Caoimhe O’ Prey and I am a Textile Artist based in Belfast. I have just recently finished a degree in fine and applied arts at the University of Ulster Belfast.

The main objective of the artwork I create is to commemorate particular people or stories that have enriched my life. These artworks are often centred around the working class people of Belfast, as this sector of the community is where I draw most of my inspiration. In my art I like to isolate key elements from the stories and bring them to life through the use of fabric and traditional techniques, such as embroidery and appliqué. A lot of my family have worked in the Belfast textile industry, my Great-Grandmother was a stitcher, my Grandmother was a doffer, and my Mother a weaver so the use of these techniques is an important feature in my work, as I feel it gives a tangible link to the past, allowing me to portray my family’s stories in an authentic manner.

How and where are you today?

I’m great , I’m in art college, I am meant to be supervising the degree show but my fabulous fellow textile artist have given me leave, so I can sneak away and develop my designs on the college’s multi-head.

How would you describe the journey that has brought you to this place? And was this the destination you had in mind?

Like all journeys it wasn’t the smoothest, there have definitely been many bums in the road, but for the most part I have really enjoyed it. I have made some amazing friends and learned so much in the past four years at Art College, I’m sad to see it end but also equally excited for things that will occur in the future. This is the destination I had in mind, even from a young age I knew I had to do something creative with my life, but I never had imagined it would have been so rewarding getting here.

Do you have a process to ensure you are in the right frame of mind to create?

Well I have to be fed; I can’t work on an empty stomach, which is probably why this diet isn’t working. I like having certain music on when I’m working, if I’m drawing or painting I usually have chilled/ folksy stuff or some old soul music. I recently inherited a massive vintage vinyl collection so I’m working my way through it, finding little gems as I go, but when I’m on my sewing machine and I knew I need to get work done I stick on some good old 90’s rave to get me working quicker.

How do you think your background and culture influences your creations?

I wouldn’t have created any of my artwork if it wasn’t for my background; it is the most important element in my work. All the artwork I create is a way for me to communicate the people, stories and events that are special to me and the majority of these are centred around the working class people of Belfast. I felt that sometimes people from this section of the community can be tagged with a bad reputation, simply because of where they live, I want to try and chance that view and show the fun colourful characters.

What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty means love to me, the more hours I spend labouring over a work to make a beautiful perfect piece of art equals the amount of special feeling I have towards the subject manner.

If we had interviewed you when you were 11, what would you have told us you wanted to be when you grew up?

The 11 year old me wanted to be everything. With children I find there are no limitations and they come up with the most fantastic job combinations, I remember for a while I was quite interested in being a Black taxi driver come cartoonist come archaeologist.

What advice have you received that you want everyone to benefit from?

“Don’t put off till tomorrow, what you can do today” I really have to live by this because I can become the worlds biggest procrastinator.

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website / blog / facebook / twitter

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What a beauty! Thank you so much Caoimhe. We are so impressed with your work, and are delighted you are now part of the family!

handsome and pretty

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One thought on “An Interview with Caoimhe O’Prey

  1. Amazing work..full of life…I love how she is redeeming history in this colourful and creative way.

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