For the co-founder of STONEY ROAD PRESS and his family, ART IS ESSENTIAL as fixtures and furniture and they use it to best, and artlessly lovely, effect in every room of their house …
Architectural prints, still lifes, small paintings and drawings, the gallery wall in David and Eileen O’Donoghue’s sitting room is a magic mix of Michelle Souter, Tony O’Malley, Richard Gorman, and more. With paintings hung in ad hoc fashion, it gives a clue to the rest of the house, where family and working life is recorded in the art which hangs on its walls.
The three-storey house in Co Wicklow is part of a Victorian terrace built in the 1850s as holiday homes for seafaring captains. The couple, who now have three children (and a large Newfoundland dog) lived in the ground floor flat for years, eventually aquiring the entire house and moving their kitchen from basement to the first floor, with its French doors and deep balcony from which to admire the view across the sea to Bray Head.
Gallerist, entrepreneur and printmaker David O’Donoghue founded Stoney Road Press with James O’Nolan (formerly of Graphic Studio). An innovative maker of limited edition artworks, Stoney Road also produces beautiful limited edition books. All prints are painstakingly made by hand by expert printers, with the artist at the centre of the process. Artists are not constrained by a menu of techniques, but can use all sorts of methods, from woodblock, to etching and laser-cutting, to make their art. Attracted to the freedom of this process, it’s no surprise that Stoney Road has many stellar artists on its roster.
With art on the agenda every day at Stoney Road, and art surrounding them at home, the lines between work and home are often pleasantly blurred. David and Eileen often
entertain colleagues and artists at their vast wooden table in the kitchen. Once, when David was making a book of poetry, Many Mansions, with Seamus Heaney in 2009, they convened a meeting, for which Eileen had baked a lemon tart. Seamus Heaney, his eye on the tart, was keen to finish up the meeting. He liked the tart so much, Eileen gave him the remainder to take home. Six weeks later the pie dish was returned by courier, along with a beautifully written dedication entitled “A Delirious Interlude”, which hangs on the gallery wall in the sitting room. There are many of these autobiographical pieces around the house: every picture, literally, tells a story.
Both David and Eileen have a deep appreciation and knowledge of the Irish art world, the characters who inhabit it and the stories behind the art they produce. And often, it’s difficult to avoid the temptation of the pieces produced by Stoney Road itself. “Everything we buy is stock. Sometimes we regret selling stuff. Sometimes we hold on to stuff we love … on our walls, and on our balance sheet!”
As every print appreciates in value, it’s a sound investment. They are not precious about how art is displayed – the Richard Gorman piece hangs in the kitchen/living space; other pieces hang close to stoves and splashbacks. A simple, meaningful drawing is given the same reverence as a Patrick Scott. If they love it, out comes the drill and up it goes. For those of us who spend weeks, months and even years looking at unhung paintings in our homes – or worse still, empty walls, it’s a lovely lesson in living with art.
Stoney Road Press Fine Art Press; 01 857 8544; www.stoneyroadpress.com. Stoney Road Press offers art consultation and art-hanging advice. The first consultation is free.
Photographs by Dylan Thomas
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