Thought Forms and Repositories for the Soul – An Exhibition by Jane O’Sullivan

Posted 6 days ago in Arts & Culture Features


Jane O’ Sullivan, an artist living and working out of County Mayo, has spent a hermetic few years crafting an intensely personal, reflective and jubilant collection of talismanic embroidered artwork. Some may recognise her work from artisanal markets, where she offers handmade and upcycled garments that benefit from her studied expertise in theatrical costume and education in fine art. This work too has made its way into the exhibition, prose sewn into a page here, a salvaged treasure as a centerpiece there.

With work as unique and compelling as hers, we had to have a quiet word about this idiosyncratic exhibition and the things that inspired her to create this unique, compelling work.


Lucy’s Lounge is such a perfect venue for your work. Their demographic and yours is very complimentary.

Yes we both come from the D.I.Y culture of the 1980s. The space Dee has created holds a unique place in my inner world. My work is co-existing very well, holding its own space but happily in conversation with its surroundings. A wonderful thing has been the generosity of the people who chance upon the exhibition unexpectedly… If they agree  to be in a video Dee will record them responding to my work and send it to me, not for social media, just for me, personally.

That’s been really, really special. It lets me know what I do means something to people. Hearing that keeps me going. The work has been very mindfully installed into what is an already very established and well loved alternative space. The customers, Lucy’s staff and the exhibition has become a total conversation between the space and the themes my artwork presents.


You were exhibiting publicly up until 2017, but you’ve been quieter in recent years.

I’ve never stopped creating my work, but for a long while I retreated from exhibiting. I was dealing with complex family situations, myself resident in Ireland but caring for my mother, and dealing with the sudden passing of my sister, both living in England, with the constant travel and the nightmare of lock down. It’s been a difficult time, that has made me reassess what I want to do with my work, and also what I want to say.

I’ve been thinking of the Louise Bourgeois quote: “Art Is a guaranty of sanity” as I respond to your question,  it has truly become a mantra for me. Art is the only thing that makes sense. So dealing with so many traumatic things, throughout it all I continued making my work because it was the only thing that made sense to me. It sustained me and continues to contain me. This body of work, made over the last four years needed to be shown and shared. I needed to let it go.


Was there a catalyst that inspired you to start showing your art again?

Yes, I felt ready to share again and exchange energy. I needed to know if what I had made, could leave me. If it could have meaning to another. This work is not just for me, I don’t want it to be stored away. I want it to communicate what it needs to communicate.I’m just trying to express something that can sometimes be very deep, and very heavy. It’s too much for me to live with. When I bring it out I feel that people identify with it.

We all grieve, we all love, we are all fragile and vulnerable inside, many of us feel overwhelmed. This is beautiful and complex. I have to make art, I don’t know anything else. My market stalls have kept me sane and are an important part of my art practice, socially they are essential for me. They provide a heterotopia* to exist momentarily, where I can “be” in my display of carefully chosen beloved objects.

I have a very small studio, where I make all my work and I literally could not move for the many resolved pieces all ready to move on. It feels like I’m finding my voice again, and I know that to exist you have to communicate. My work is very private, but also, it wants to be seen,  and it wants to be shared.

*strange or ambivalent places – places that defy the normal logic of ordering.

Words: Adhamh Ó Caoimh

Thought Forms and Repositories for the Soul – An Exhibition by Jane O’Sullivan is at Lucy’s Lounge Vintage Shop, 11 Fownes Street Temple Bar until August 18th (Friday 14:00 – 18:00, Saturdays 12:00 – 18:00, Sundays, 14:00 – 18:00)




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