Michael Stafford was born in Belfast. He studied at Sallynoggin College of Further Education, Dun Loaghaire College of Art and Design and at Sligo IT. He facilitates art workshops as well as maintaining his painting practice. He has exhibited widely and his work is held in a number of collections.
Michael Stafford is a Visual Artist living and working in Dundalk. He has always been interested in art “It’s something I have always done; my first memory is copying cartoon characters, then I got into graffiti art, outsider art then into fine art”.
He balances his own practice with tutoring and working with community groups.
Can you tell us a little about the work you do in a community context?
I got into community facilitating while in Third year at college facilitating summer projects in Jobstown and Tallaght. I started to teach evening classes for the VEC, and also worked painting murals in schools with kids. As well as that, I worked for The Centre for Border Studies at Dundalk Institute of Technology and gave workshops in Mosney as well as working with a women’s group in Muirhevnamor.
I gave other workshops which involved teaching, drawing and painting skills: workshops I facilitated for The Simon Community, The House in Cox’s Demense and the community houses in Muirhevnamor. The funding came from different sources; some were funded by Dundalk Town Council Arts Office and some by the VEC.
I have also taught the skill of binding artist books (and how to fill it with content), and self-portrait workshops.
At my first exhibition in the Basement Gallery we had three openings, the first week was my work, the second week, the work of the residents of the Simon Community showed their pieces and then a week later, work from the kids from The House in Cox’s, both of which I facilitated. All three bodies of work then ran together, so it was a really interesting exhibition. I have also done video and sculpture installations for an experimental theatre group The Spiral Staircase.
Can you tell us about the work you have in our collection?
The abstract architecture behind the image was developed by folding paper then scanning it into Photoshop. The image is taking from a children’s book that I grew up with which was also manipulated by Photoshop. Besides some biographical context, in a post-modern way and mindful of painterly concerns, I wanted to put several different time and visual activities together. Illustration with abstract, old with new, modernism and to a greater extent post-modernism interferes with our perception of time and religion.
I still like the work and I would hang it in my home, but I don’t like having too much of own work hanging around because I end up over analysing it and want to change it. I like to put older work away from my view.
Tell us a little about your current practice?
My current work still involves an eclectic mixture of styles but much more free and instant. I move from tight control to loose painterly concerns and back again. Improvisation, memories, design and happy accidents and seasoned with a decent amount of failure.