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Illustrator Ireland awards member Karen Nolan art residency at Tyrone Guthrie Centre

April 2024
Tyrone Guthrie Centre

Illustrator Ireland had the opportunity during 2023 to award two members a residency at the centre and support their professional development after a very competitive external judging process with many applications of very high standard. Our member Karen Nolan writes about her residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre:

As I first drove through the gates of Annaghmakerrig House I wasn’t sure what awaited me. I knew the Tyrone Guthrie Centre as a place of pilgrimage for creative souls and I was honoured to be counted among its brethren for a whole seven days. Some months earlier I had been awarded a residency from Illustrators Ireland which meant free rein in the Tyrone Guthrie print studio along with a room in the house and three hearty meals a day, all served up with the warm hospitality for which the centre is renown.

Previously, I had been tinkering with my xcut xpress in my home studio – a small die-cutting machine that doubles up as a cheap and cheerful A4 printing press. For printing plates I reused empty foil-backed cartons, scratching an image into the foil with an etching needle. The results produce interesting textures and fine lines when inked and printed as you would using intaglio on a drypoint plate. The natural creases in the folded-out carton only add character to the print. During my residency, I had the opportunity to print on a large press using my Tetra Pak plates and to experiment with chine-collé to incorporate colour.

Annaghmakerrig House, built in the Gothic revival style overlooks a twinkly tree-lined lake. Each day I walked through the forest, often ending up at to the lakeside where I’d settle down with my binoculars to watch the great crested grebes slide over the water. The place was peacefully quiet bar sublime birdsong, the odd woodpecker and occasional jay squawk. Evenings were more sociable. At 7pm residents gathered around a long table to eat dinner together, where stories were shared and friends made. Several of us had seen the Annaghmakerrig hare early one morning as he lolloped past the house, over the gardens. On sunnier days I couldn’t resist a bracing dip in the peaty lake, water the colour of weak tea. To be free of domestic obligations, immersed in nature and surrounded by fellow creatives for an entire week was a tonic for the spirit. Mentally and creatively refreshed (and a few pounds heavier) I returned home from the residency inspired to record my time there and with a renewed sense of purpose to crack on with projects in hand and dream up new ones.

I’m very grateful to illustrators Ireland and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre for granting me time in this amazing place – thank you.