Back to school for acclaimed Letterkenny sculptor

By Harry Walsh

REDMOND Herrity was one of more than 2,000 full-time students was got their Christmas holidays at Letterkenny Institute of Technology last Thursday.

While scores of other students will take a well earned break from the books, Redmond (40) will spend the next few weeks preparing exhibits for the London Art Fair – the UK’s premier Modern British and contemporary art Fair.

A self taught stone sculptor, Redmond has travelled extensively creating private and public commissions throughout Ireland and abroad. He has been given many awards in Ireland including ‘Sculptor of the Year’ in 2009 by the Royal Hibernian Academy.

Earlier this year, he decided to close the door at his studio in Lismonaghan and return to school.

“It’s been very tough to work at times for a full year and not get paid. While I might sell the odd piece, it’s been far from easy. Having left school at fourteen I decided it was time to go back and get my Leaving Cert,” he explained.

“I went out to the college (LYIT) asking about doing the Leaving and they suggested I do a design course. Five weeks into the course, they moved me into year two. It’s been some challenge but I’m really enjoying the experience,” he said.

Redmond is studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Product Design and, ultimately, he would like to teach.

“I’m self taught but I’ve found that no one really takes you seriously unless you have the paperwork to back it up,” he said.

Having left school at 14, Redmond spent a number of years on the building sites working for his father. There followed a short period working in Unifi before taking off to see the world – a journey that took him away for five years.

During his time in India in the late 1990s, he was inspired by street sculptors and in a later trip to Australia worked with stone for the first time. He graduated from Leitrim Sculpture Centre in Ireland in 2001 and later worked in Carrara, Italy, where he began mastering the ancient techniques of marble portraiture. From classical portraits to modern sculpture, Redmond’s work spans centuries.

Today Redmond’s collection of ‘recycled’ pieces are on permanent exhibit to the Artcatto Gallery in Loule, Algarve, Portugal.

Closer to home, he had a month-long exhibition of other works at Ballymaloe Country House, Shanagarry, Midleton, County Cork in the summer while his work was also be shown at the RHA show in Dublin, the Royal Ulster Academy show in Belfast, the Kilkenny Arts Festival and Dublin’s Botanic Garden.

Two pieces he calls ‘Under Cover’ and ‘The Skip’ will be among his work which will be on show in London next month.

“It’s funny. I won the Royal Hibernian Academy sculptor of the year back in 2009 with that piece (Under Cover) and here it is now being accepted for London five years later,” he said

More recently, Redmond has been working on a new piece he calls, ‘The Skip.’
“Every time I made a public commission, the first thing I had to do was order a skip for the waste stone so I decided that I would try to make money from it by making my own skip to sell,” he quipped.

The 27th edition of the London Art Fair takes place at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London, from 21-25 January.

“I’ve spent the last number of years pedalling as hard as I possibly could in business and I’m delighted to be able to report that the wheels continue to turn. Officially, I’m a full-time student and yet more and more of my work is now being accepted in galleries all over the world.

“Somehow they’re getting hold of my name and they’re looking to showcase my work. The money is no longer out there for large commission pieces but every piece I make has to be worth a million euro in the viewers eyes. It has to look good and that’s the approach I’ve always taken even if I’ve been asked to work off a small budget.

“I’ve a large body of work built up and I’m more than happy to continue with my full-time studies.

“Looking back on it, the (secondary school) teachers didn’t really understand me. I suppose I wasn’t academic, but then again most of those same teachers probably couldn’t hold a hammer. The world’s made up of many different people with different skill sets. I’ve learned by mistakes and I now want the paperwork to prove it,” he smiled.

Herrity skip 3

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