Sunday 18 August 2019

'Best advice I got was to invest in my skill set'


Kevin Callaghan. Picture: Emma Kelly
Kevin Callaghan. Picture: Emma Kelly

The Donegal artist Kevin Callaghan won the Allianz Business To Arts Awards earlier this year for his Dream Roads sculpture. He also won the Frank Ryan Bursary Award in 2009.

He has exhibited in China, and in London's prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum and Saatchi Gallery. He lives in Cork but will move to Glasgow this January to begin a new artist's residency there. His works Over and Back are on show at the Doswell Gallery in Rosscarbery, west Cork until December 3. For more information on the artist, visit

What's the most important lesson about money which your career as an artist has taught you?

That it's possible to make a career from art if you use your skill set properly and trust and believe in what you do.

What's the most expensive city you ever visited?

Copenhagen. I would not see it as a viable option to live there or produce work there as materials are quite expensive. It does have fantastic architecture and a great art and design scene though.

What's the best advice you ever got about money?

To invest in myself and my skill set.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

I had a three-month stay in China in 2009 when I was on a research and production trip. Shipping the work back from China was quite expensive.

What was your worst job?

Invigilation at a major London art exhibition. I found myself not being able to be productive as it was taking me away from my own work.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

I have taken on some projects in the past that I really wanted to do and sometimes they resulted in very little profit. I feel it's important to see these projects through even though there might be little or no money in them. What artistically feels right is sometimes really important.

What was your best financial killing?

In 2015, I worked with the design studio, Unknown Fields Division, on a very interesting project. I produced ceramic forms using mud from a radioactive lake in Inner Mongolia. Each is sized in relation to the amount of waste created in the production of three items of technology: a smartphone, a featherweight laptop, and the cell of a smart car battery. The work, which is called Rare Earthenware, exhibited in the Victoria & Albert museum - and all over the world. It is now in the permanent collection in the Victoria & Albert. These ceramic vessels are priceless.

Are you better off than your parents?

Perhaps. I feel that the opportunities to travel and explore are much greater today and that there are more opportunities to focus on what is really important.

If you could design your own euro note, whose face would you put on it?

Eileen Gray , the wonderful late Irish architect and furniture maker and designer.

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

I made an insurance claim after a piece of artwork got broken on the way to the Hamptons in New York. The claim paid for the reproduction of the piece, and that piece has since sold.

iTunes or Spotify?

I like online music outlets like SoundCloud, MixCloud and independent radio stations like Dublin Digital Radio and NTS London.

What was the last thing you bought online?

Plane tickets to Glasgow. I have a three-month artist residency coming up in the Glasgow Sculpture Studio in January.

Would you buy property now?

I'll be travelling a lot over the next few years so I'm happy enough to rent for the moment.

Sunday Indo Business

Also in Business