Stiofan O'Ceallaigh: You Don't Have to Have Surgery to be Trans, 2016
Stiofan O'Ceallaigh has been producing artwork since he was seven years old. He has always seen it as a great healer, an ongoing cathartic process. Creativity so often has a life of its own, even a mind of its own, with many artists being fascinated by what they produce, the finished piece often being a whole trip away from the original intent. The same with Stiofan, his work is full of subconscious intent, happy accidents, synchronicity, unconscious bursts of intervention.
Stiofan works mostly with photo, digital, video, drawing, and painting, although lately he has found himself being drawn towards a more private performative element in his work, one that allows his works to talk and dance with one another, get to know each other, and who knows, sometimes have sex and argue with each other.
These works are very much part of Stiofan, they are an integral part of his personal journey. He sees them in fact as chapters or codes, messages to himself, produced by his private and personal performances.
Stiofan O'Ceallaigh: James, 2016
Stiofan O'Ceallaigh: Charlotte, 2016
It is an important point when considering the work produced by an artist, just how autobiographical, sometimes intensely so, that work really is. It is so often a form of necessary self-therapy, not because artists are somehow damaged, or flawed, but because we all are. Artists use their work as a healing tool because it is available to them, which begs the question, what does everyone else use?
An important element within Stiofan's working process is music, which I can well understand. For Stiofan, music adds additional focus for his creativity. Through rhythms, instruments, vocals, and more, he is able to focus and refocus, driving himself forward.
Under the surface of most artists work there lies layers, often many in number. They are frequently physical, mental, or both. In Stiofan's case it is definitely a matter of both the physical and the mental.
Physically, he often over paints previous work. He readily admits that this is partly due to limited resources, but it is also part of an intriguing journey of each piece of work, necessity has in many ways created a form for Stiofan to follow and explore. He intriguingly documents each layer of work that is built up, on instagram.
Stiofan O'Ceallaigh: Everything is Connected and Lost Line Wise Man, 2014-2016
Stiofan O'Ceallaigh: Lost Line Wise Man and Everything is Connected, 2014-2016
The use of instagram as an additional tool allows Stiofan to travel physically along a journey with an art piece, but also to electronically document that journey, so that both aspects become integral parts of the work, the documentation being just as important in some respects, as the physical process.
Stiofan O'Ceallaigh was actually named Stephen Kelly at birth. In 2016 he purposely made a decision to dedicate himself to his art work, and the making of that art work. In that respect, he renamed himself Stiofan O'Ceallaigh, the Irish original of his name. So now he becomes through his renaming, as he himself terms it, "my artist, Celt, queer name; ergo the inner self."
He is currently exploring what this all means to him personally. The "queer aesthetic" he terms it. It is a voyage of creative and personal discovery, one that is integral to his working process. It is a journey that will entail a kaleidoscope of feelings and understandings, the highs and lows, the expansive and introspective, all aspects of a life well-lived.
Stiofan O'Ceallaigh: City Point, 2014
Stiofan O'Ceallaigh: Personal Stigma(ta), 2013
This is an artist that has already explored much of his psyche, pushed down into the depths of his soul, but he still has a long way to go, a lifetime in fact. Stiofan has a journey ahead of him that will see him explore his life as it unfolds, and he will be ready for it. He has the tools of an artist to help him, and that will richly help him to explain himself to himself, and perhaps in some form, to others as well.
More of Stiofan's work can be found at his website: https://stiofanoceallaigh.wordpress.com/
All works shown here were kindly supplied by the artist. Please ask that artist before using them elsewhere. Thanks.
Stiofan O'Ceallaigh: Self Portrait, 2014