“Limerick is culture” Brian says emphatically as we sit down to chat at Limerick Printmakers in John’s Square.
“Being part of the community here is really important, being around the peers that you work with. I felt I really couldn’t work in London, even though there was so much going on. It didn’t flow whereas it only ever flowed here.” Originally from Garryowen, Brian worked in London for a time after finishing his MA. He returned to Limerick to raise his family with wife, Laura. “I set up Parallel Editions with my business partner Suzannah O’Reilly following stints of working independently. We work with people outside the mainstream visual arts; working with designers, craftspeople and all-round makers. I went to a meeting the day Áine, my daughter, was born and I don’t think I have stopped since. You are building something for the future and you are completely invested in it. Now it’s getting to the point where it is starting to mature.”
Brian has a complicated relationship with culture “When I came back to Limerick I spent a long time searching and looking. There was very much a scene of arts for art’s sake going on whereas in London there was commercial and contemporary art, outsider art.” Comparing the London scene with Limerick, a sense of community is key. “I lived in a community in London that had more people than in the Munster region living in my neighbourhood and I knew nobody, whereas here I know everyone, I can turn to someone, you are never more than three people away from anyone in the entire country. It’s a community that you can manage, you know that if you need something you can get it.”
The current bid it seems helped rally the artistic community, “With printmaking, it’s a community. This isn’t my place, this is our place. We all come in here and ask, ‘What are you working on?’ What I do now is a natural progression of that.”
According to Brian, Limerick is vital for the arts sector in the western corridor.
“I think Limerick is one of the most influential cities in the country as regards art and culture because of its location. Limerick is right in the middle. Limerick has probably the biggest community of culture in Ireland outside of Dublin. Here there is a network. It’s not about having a list of people, but having the people on the list talking together, working together. The importance of what we do as creatives on a national level needs to be recognised. If you take away creativity, the future is gone. There will be no critical thinking, where will the ideas come from?”
The Limerick2020 bid is important to Brian, “It sets the foundation stones of everything that is going to happen afterwards. When you bring the community together it is probably the biggest advertisement for what culture is. The legacy is the important bit. That’s what it’s all about, the legacy.”