Beth O’Halloran

Beth O’Halloran
1 City Star Cradle
Photo collage on polyester
51 x 41 cm
Purchased from the exhibition In Like a Lion, out Like a Lamb, Basement Gallery, 2006
2 And the Dawn Chorus was in the Background
Mixed Media on Board
82 x 54 cm
Purchased from the exhibition In Like a Lion, out Like a Lamb, Basement Gallery, 2006


Beth O’Halloran is a Dublin based visual artist who works in a variety of media. She studied at The National College of Art and Design and at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and technology. She has exhibited widely in Ireland and in the U.S, London and Japan. She is a member of the artist’s panels at the National Gallery of Ireland, at Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane and at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Read an Interview with this artist here:

How did you start out as an artist?

I went to NCAD and graduated in the early 90’s when it was still assumed anyone sensible should be emigrating, so I went to New York City as it held the museums and galleries I was most excited by. While there, I began exhibiting and through sheer luck ended up represented by an art dealer…I literally bumped into her while walking a dog and carrying a big piece of wood I had just pulled from a skip. She said “Painting?” and I said “Soon to be” and that was that.

What has helped you to continue?

I felt I had support and I made sure I never gave up my day job (at the time I walked dogs for a living) which took a lot of pressure off. I have felt lucky to also receive support from private and public galleries which kept my confidence up around my work even when sales were at low points.

What kinds of challenges have you faced in your career?

I have felt constant financial worry. And there have been times I felt a crisis around continuing as sometimes it’s hard to know if your work is having any impact. Also, a time came when I felt I had to go back to get an MA as I felt out of touch and wanted more security for work opportunities.

What advice would you give to artists beginning their career?

Be very organised. Make sure you strategise your career. Look up artists you admire, track their journeys and try to emulate their approach. Start out by getting into as many group shows as you can and if you meet a curator you admire, be sure to keep in touch. Curate shows yourself to gain a better understanding of the process. If things go quiet, make sure you connect with the rest of your artistic community.

How important is Gallery representation for you?

I did have representation with a private gallery for six years and that was a source of support and pressure too. These days, I’m really happy to be involved with mostly public spaces but there are times when I still wish I was with a gallery as it can be hard to keep up the energy without knowing you have a major solo show every two years (as was the norm in my gallery).

How you do keep your profile visible?

I apply for bursaries through the Arts Council regularly and feel that is a great way other opportunities have come my way. There are always interesting people on those panels doing lots of projects themselves. I did have a website which I need to update as online representation is nearly a regulation these days. And if I go more than three years without someone inviting me to do a solo, I put one up myself. The last time I did that was at Monstertruck Gallery in Temple Bar, Dublin.  I made a small publication and sent it to everyone I could think of and have had some really interesting collaborations come from it. Sometimes opportunities come from simply reminding people you are out there so it is important to make the effort to get to openings and artists’ talks for mutual support.

Can you tell us about the work you have in our collection?

I made the pieces in 2006 after finishing my Master’s in IADT.

Both pieces were based on a series of photographs I took while travelling in Maine, USA. They were during a time when I was questioning what happens after we pass away and tried to address that sense of flux or transition when something physical changes into something unknowable and ephemeral. They are part of a large body of work that hinged on several installations which aimed to re-create other elements that hover between states – elements such as light and that shift between water and air on every sea or lake horizon.

When I look back at the process of making the work and the pieces themselves, I like City Star Cradle more.  It was made from a bunch of paper punched holes from very personal photographs I had taken during that time in Maine where my mother was from. The dots are in layers of tracing paper to try to depict as much depth and sense of fading as possible. I like how each dot is made up of thousands of tiny photographic grains which seemed to help illustrate the shift from something we can see and feel to something that is only visible on an atomic level. That piece is perhaps the closest to my current concerns whereas And the Dawn Chorus was in the Background just makes me sad as it was about losing my mother.

Tell us a little about your current practice.

These days I am really interested in using light and water very directly rather than as references. I have been shining lights through simple constructions made of miniature trees in jars to make big shadows on walls. I recently heard of a phenomenon called Brocken Spectre which has given me a lot of visual ideas and I’ve been reading a lot of texts on phenomenology and societal rites of passage which are informing my practice. I’m interested in how we all go through many of the same trials in our lives and the different ways people can mark those shifts.

Find out more about this artist here: