Friday, September 09, 2022

Artist Ciara Chapman

CARLOW artist Ciara Chapman is set to make a big impression for Pain Awareness Month this month

For Pain Awareness Month, the award-winning artist will take over the famous Cork Opera House with multi-storey artwork appearing in the venue’s windows from 5 to 30 September.

Ciara will also give a free artist talk on Friday 23 September for Culture Night, all on the theme of ‘Chronic pain is not make believe’. The talk will take place at Cork Opera House between 6pm and 7pm and will also be streamed live on Ciara’s Instagram channel @ciarachapmanillustration.

Ciara is from Kellistown, but has also lived in Carlow town and Tullow. She is a past pupil of Rathoe National School and St Leo’s College.

Ciara’s beautiful, accessible artwork is a response to her own experience with chronic pain and has been recognised by the Institute of Designers in Ireland, the World Illustration Awards in 2020 and the London International Creative Competition.

Ciara said: “This is a hugely exciting project for me as an artist who has a disability, having the opportunity to create large-scale street art. Chronic pain, whether that’s mental, physical or emotional pain, is often invisible, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. It couldn’t be more real to the person experiencing the pain.

But all-too-common scepticism means that there’s a stigma for people like me, who experience chronic pain, with implications and suspicions that we are inventing the pain we feel. At our most vulnerable point, our integrity is questioned. As I’ve titled one of the artworks, which will be on display, ‘If only you could feel what I feel – just for a moment’.”

Ciara added: “I started to create artwork about chronic pain in 2016, as the result of an accident which changed everything. The pain resulting from the accident was beginning to change me in the worst way, so I turned to art to save me.

“Typically, art that explores pain tends to be graphic and a lot of the time gruesome. I decided to take my work in a different direction. I use bright colours and delicate lines to balance out the weighty themes. It’s not all doom and gloom, I also explore the light that comes out of pain. For instance, the insight I’ve gained, the self-awareness, the support, and the love I have experienced.”

This project has been funded by the Arts Council’s Arts and Disability Connect Scheme, managed by Arts & Disability Ireland. Ciara said the funding award allowed artists to dream big and challenge themselves.

“We so easily limit ourselves because of our differences; this award gives us the chance to celebrate those differences.”

Ciara divides her time these days between Cork and Carlow. She has studied fine art printmaking and graphic design and now primarily focuses her practice on digital illustration and digital printmaking as well as mixed media pieces such as embroidered and origami artworks. She has won a number of awards, a Silver A’Design award in 2019, and an Iron A’Design Award in 2022 as well as a commendation from the Institute of Designers in Ireland (IDI) for her project My Chronic Pain Diary, also in 2019. Ciara has also collaborated with Chronic Pain Ireland on several campaigns, including Pain Awareness Month. CPI is  the national support group for people living with chronic pain.

Ciara was a finalist in the World Illustration Awards in 2020 and a finalist for the Graphic Illustration category in the London International Creative Competition, also for this diary project. Ciara is a member of Cork Printmakers’ Workshop and the Association of Illustrators.

Commercially, Ciara has worked with organisations such as Pfizer pharmaceuticals and Toyota Mobility. For more information, check out



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