Artistic License: Eva O’Donovan

Fashion and femininity are the themes of EVA O’DONOVAN’s evocative artworks, which also allude to STRENGTH OF SPIRIT and SOCIETY’S CONSTRAINTS ON WOMEN

What or who inspired your love of art and fashion?

I have always had a deep love of fashion not necessarily following trends but admiring some people’s personal style, which when executed well, is timeless. I have always been exposed to art with many family members, including my mother, being very artistic.

Tell us about your recent exhibition at Brown Thomas – what was the starting point?

I was invited by John Redmond, creative director of Brown Thomas, to put together a collection of paintings to be displayed in the store. John was familiar with my previous work and felt it would work well in Brown Thomas teamed with the season’s fashion collections. This presented an amazing opportunity for me to explore different passions of mine – namely art and style.

I am drawn to fashion and interiors, and my work follows an exploration into elements of each or both. With this in mind, my figures are loosely based on catwalk shows from the 1920s up to now. Silhouettes are adapted and chosen to work with specific fabrics that I have treated and used as canvases. The artworks being displayed alongside fashions of similar colour schemes and patterns in Brown Thomas is a dream come true.

Your artwork is in two layers – the pattern and texture beneath and the portraiture.  How do you source your inspiration?

The process for working out a painting varies from work to work. Collecting images with the potential of making a painting from them has always been an ongoing thing for me compiling hundreds of stills from catwalk shows or fashion photography. The process of selecting fabrics which I am keen to work with is an exercise I love, as it often leads to travelling to London, Paris, Lisbon, among other cities. Some fabrics are bought at vintage fairs where I can come across some real treasures. Then the fun part happens when through a selective process I work out what image I feel will team well with a particular textile.

Do you follow catwalk trends closely?

I find the catwalk really interesting in terms of how, when looking back at them, they place us in the time and societal influences of the era. Previous collections have been driven by the flamboyant styles influenced by Marie Antoinette – creating images adapted from period costume of court. Later the styles of the 1920s/30s are also seen in my paintings. Really there are elements from every decade following in different works. This season I really admire the floral prints of Erdem, the more street style of Gucci and the floral sheers of Dolce and Gabbana.

Are the portraits drawn from life – is this a service you offer?

The final painting that I produce is usually very different from the original image, so commissioned portraits are not a service I offer. I may perhaps consider working on a fabric selected by a client if of course it is something that inspires me.

Where and how do you work?

I have a fantastic studio in La Catedral Studios in Dublin 8. It really is my happy place. There are around 30 creative artists from all disciplines working in individual spaces or shared spaces, so there is amazing energy and engagement every day. I work at least five days a week and like to be in studio by 8am as I’m an early bird.

Need to Know: Eva O’Donovan’s work is on show at Brown Thomas Level One and in the windows. www.brownthomas.com; www.evaodonovan.com.

Penny McCormick

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