Contestant to Judge: Caoilfhionn Hanton
30 Oct 2020
As Stage 1 of the Credit Union Art Competition has come to a close, the talent on show across the country has been immense. Over 30,000 entrants across the island of Ireland have submitted their posters and are excitedly awaiting to hear of any success. And while it is a competition at the end of the day, the Credit Union Art Competition does so much more for thousands of people, year on year.
While the Art Competition is open to people of all ages and all abilities, it is often a place where young people start their journey to becoming artists. Some entrants do it for the fun of creating, and others use it as a chance to develop their talents on their artistic journey. One artist in particular has come full circle.
Caoilfhionn Hanton, a 22 year old visual art student in WIT, fondly remembers her childhood, which saw her enter the Credit Union Art Competition. Now as an adult, Caoilfhionn returned to Waterford Credit Union, where it all began, to judge the 2020 Art Competition. We (virtually!) sat down with Caoilfhionn, who shared with us her story of becoming and artist and how she hopes to inspire the next generation of budding stars.
Caoilfhionn fondly remembers her childhood immersed in art. “My interest in art stretches back as far as I can remember! I drew on the wall in our old house when I was three and I used to fill a copybook every week with new drawings growing up. I was always useless at colouring inside the lines but maybe that was a precursor to what I’m doing now! Whilst I was hopeless at sports and struggled with maths and Irish (still inept, unforch), I’m delighted my artistic ability was recognized and nurtured by my family and teachers from such an early age”.
As a current art student, Caoilfhionn still has time to choose what she wants to be when she grows up, but her ambitions don’t stray far from art in some form. As she navigates through her life, Caoilfhionn explains how her initial dreams of becoming a popstar have slowly faded, while her passion for people has taken a driving seat, “Once my initial dreams of acceptance by some royal family situation whilst simultaneously being an internationally-acclaimed pop star/actress/model began to fade to reality, I knew I had to pursue something artistic. I first and foremost am most intrigued with the concept of real-life and people in general, and am a sociable, outgoing person. I could see myself being a secondary school art teacher whilst making murals, or doing tattoos. I’m still not sure but I won’t be in an office for sure!”
Growing up Caoilfhionn remembers her childhood fondly and her self-confessed obsession with the Credit Union Schools Quiz and Art Competition, “ I placed somewhere for my local age category for the Credit Union quiz back in probably second class of primary school. I’ll say that I placed first but I’m happy if anyone wants to expose me with the tea that I came somewhere else on the lineup as I’m not too sure. I went to the Ursuline and they were always encouraging of participation in the poster competition, and the Credit Union quiz. I was obsessed with that too!”
Speaking about the theme of this year’s art competition, Caoilfhionn describes why ‘Imagine More’ is the perfect theme to capture the world around us, this year, “I love the theme ‘Imagine More’ so much. It perfectly captures what we need to do now more than ever. 2020 has been a maaaaad year, and art and creativity has never been vital to get us through the tough times. The wording of the theme is indicative of positivity, but also aptly reflects today’s times”.
And on the topic of imagination, Caoilfhionn describes how her imagination continues to inspire her art today, and how one lecturer influenced her to never let it go, “Yes, 100%! I still don’t think my composition skills are the best and for years focused on bettering my technical ability of drawing and painting, but my main aim these days is to tap back into the imagination ingenuity we had in buckets as children. My lecturer Susan said that we often forget how to ‘play’ as we grow which is a shame, and that encouragement has stuck with me”.
We asked Caoilfhionn what made her pursue art afterschool, and she owed it to her time in secondary school when she was given the opportunity of work experience in a Dublin Studio. “I’ve always knew I wanted to study something alongside art and people for sure, but dabbled with the idea of more graphic work, or marketing. I’m definitely more suited to fine art (paint and other messy stuff) than graphic stuff (pixels and too impossibly clean lines for me). I was in fourth year of secondary school when I was given the opportunity to do my work experience in Steve Kemp’s personal art studio in Dublin, where I learned how to cut stencils and much more. This definitely helped determine my pursuit of art. It was the ideal introduction to the Irish street art scene as well of knowledge about paints, materials and practice”.
Now more than ever, art has been a saving grace for many, providing an escape from what is going on in the world. Caoilfhionn nods to just how important art has been in this mad new world we find ourselves in. “Art in every medium has definitely assisted in connecting us when we couldn’t physically be together. I did not realise how valuable the internet was until lockdown, and that’s coming from someone who’s always been addicted to it! Sharing positive sentiments online, political art to protest some of the many issues society faces or simply having the craic with memes were all forms of art I’ve encountered daily since 2020 began. Art also comes in the form of bingeable Netflix shows, the music that makes us feel better or entering competitions like this; expressing yourself can be totally liberating. For any age or ability!”
Finally we asked Caoilfhionn for any words of wisdom she has for up and coming artists, “I would definitely encourage any fledgling artist/creator to post their work online. The support from both other creatives and the general public is great. Opportunities follow when you can show that you put the effort in and I find engaging with other art online majorly inspires me to keep going. I’d recommend befriending others in real life too, who share the same enthusiasm for creating. It’s very easy to slip into the pressures of growing up and preoccupation with what’s socially cool or not, and I still relate to the same dilemma of ‘do I want to spend my weekends with a boyfriend/girlfriend or painting?’ I had when I was younger. It’s a balance but the most important thing is to push yourself, believe in your potential and get out there!”
You can check out Caoilfhionn’s work here, or through her social media channels on Facebook and Instagram.