Winner of the Platform 2013 Graduate Award for his exhibition, ‘You are necessary here’, Dom Callaghan is a London based artist whose vibrant use of pattern, colour and handmade objects invites us to participate and find joy in what we see.
Why did you call your exhibition, ‘You are necessary here’?
I always want to make the viewer feel that they are of more value than the artwork. A lot of pieces are put on a pedestal, but I wanted to breakdown the usual gallery barriers by making my work reachable.
Wardrobe' & 'Mantle' (2013) installation view from The Ruskin Degree Show 2013. Fabric on dowelling
What are you trying to pursue in your art?
For me, the future of art is a future where artists are generous with their art and generous with themselves. I’m intrigued by the idea of generosity in art because God is generous. I think God has a tremendous purpose for art and I don’t think we are even close to understanding it or putting it into practice.
Generosity is all about intentions: about your heart, rather than the product. For me, that means that the artist needs to make an approach to the viewer. We need to let them in, or else people won’t know how to engage with it or enjoy it. My ultimate desire is that people see God’s delight for them when they see my art.
Takeaway gladness: (2013) oil on fabric, pine handles, dowelling, plywood & hinges installation view from The Ruskin Degree Show 2013 at the old power station
Is there a relationship between leadership and art?
Yes. I think one of the many roles of an artist is to articulate what is going on, be it emotionally, physically or socially, before the culture fully understands it.
Artists are also worship leaders, but I’ve found that quite often we seem reluctant to take on this role. The problem is introspection: too much self-analysis means that as artists, we often feel inadequate and a bit lost. The response is to simply lift your eyes off yourself and onto God, or onto others.
Why do you think art matters?
Art and beauty is key to our humanity and to our relationship with God. I recently started a collective project with four friends. The aim is to create a community of artists and musicians in all disciplines that could support each other spiritually and creatively. We chose to call the project ‘Bezalel’ because Bezalel is the first artist mentioned in the Bible.
In the book of Exodus, he is given the gift of the Holy Spirit and appointed to use his creativity to decorate the inner sanctuary of the temple. Only one person a year, the high priest, would have seen this space. Other than that it was just for God. That’s a really clear example of what I think art is – pure, extravagant worship.
'Abundance' (2013) oil on fabric (the size of a double duvet)
So Bezalel is an artistic community. Why is community important to you?
Well, God is community – the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are in community together. When I am in community, I think I feel his heart. When people come together with a common unity, it is often raw and uncomfortable but it feels right, like what was intended for us.