We had the good fortune of connecting with Caoimhe Dalton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Caoimhe, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am from Ireland. I was born in Dublin, the capital, though I spent a lot of my childhood in the countryside in south-west Kerry. I find myself back in the wilds of Kerry now. On a moonless night like tonight it is pitch black. Every strange noise is the banshee and every inexplicable flicker, a fairy light. Here me and my siblings would sit for hours on end at waters edge looking for merrows and shine up copper coins to lure in the wee folk. We crawled through abandoned houses convincing each other we had seen ghosts and Púca’s. It is a beautiful and wild part of the world, a place where it is hard to imagine these tales aren’t anything but absolute truth. I still love Irish folklore to this day and it influences most of the work that I make. Lately, with the world growing ever more obsessed with illness by the day, I have become obsessed with folk-medicine specifically. It is said one way to get ‘The Cure’ is to marry a man with the same surname. Another is to be the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. I’ve heard that if you hand a new born baby a worm and it crushes it that child will grow to have the Cure for ringworm. I was once even told the cure for a migraine or toothache was to run around in a circle and try your hardest not to think of a fox. These odd stories and folk practices interest and inspire me endlessly. I am not wrong in thinking the reason being is my Irish upbringing and my time spent down in the south of this island.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I began drawing as soon as I could hold a crayon. From a very young age I was adamant I was going to be an artist, nothing else was going to cut it. No one was surprised when that is exactly what I did. I’m sure that’s not a particularly unusual story of an artist, a rare tale would be someone who woke up one day late in life with a sudden drive to be paint every single day from then on. That would be an interesting story. But I think most creatives are probably born with it in them. Like a compulsion, it’s something you just have to do. So in a way I guess it was very easy, I was always going to do this. In other ways it isn’t easy. You might be born with the need to create but unless you put it in to practice you’re unlikely to be much good. You have to keep at it, keep pushing things just a little further, keep learning. I know I’ll never be at a level I’m happy with, I’ll always be striving for more. It sounds frustrating but when you can look back at how far you’ve come it’s the most satisfying feeling. So I suppose what I have learnt is that you have to keep working and learning. Never assume you know anything, always be listening to what people have to teach you because you’re never done.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am currently half way up a mountain in Ballinskelligs, a barely town in Kerry. There is only a shop/petrol station/post office, all in one. At this time of year there are no cafes open. But you don’t need anything except the most beautiful scenery and it’s almost embarrassing how much of it there is here. So I would recommend you pack a lunch and strap on some boots for a hike. At the top of this mountain, Canuig, there is a row of standing stones against the skyline, a monument erected by the ancient Irish. Though it’s original purpose is lost to time there is an undeniable energy about this place. If you continue on to the next mountain, Bolus Head, you have the best vantage point for viewing the Skellig Islands out in the wild Atlantic. These islands look uninhabitable, two giant rocks constantly berated by the sea, but St. Fionan’s monks used live out there many centuries ago in stone beehive shaped huts. They believed living a simple life of prayer on the treacherously steep peaks of the Skellig would bring them closer to God. If the weather was nice, however unlikely that may be in rainy Ireland, I would recommend one of many beaches around here though even during the summer you would want to be tough enough to brave the cold water. I would probably go to Derrynane beach. Not too far from the beach there is a fairy ring fort, another ancient monolith. No one is sure what these were used for but if stories are to be believed the fairy race live in them and it is unwise to step inside the ring.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to thank absolutely everyone at Black Church Print Studio in Dublin. I was awarded a membership to the studio when I graduated from the National College of Art and Design and it gave me the boost I needed as an emerging artist straight out of school. So many fellow printmakers in there have taught me a little something and I couldn’t be more grateful. I also wouldn’t have gotten too far without Kitsch Doom, a fantastic artist. Their unbelievable ambition, especially when it comes to experimental printmaking, always encourages me to go that small bit further. Another Irish artist who day after day eggs me on is Julia Collins, another fantastic printmaker. We recently collaborated on and released a small publication called Instructions and I couldn’t ask for a better co-conspirator. Lastly, I give a massive thanks to the National Folklore Collection. So many incredible practices and stories are being lost in our modern world. It is incredibly important to safeguard these stories for the future. The folks at the National Folklore Archive in UCD are doing just that and I applaud them for it.