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Dominic McKeown screen printing in DCA Print Studio
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Thick Skin: Q&A with Dominic McKeown

DCA Print Studio x Jerwood Residencies

We host a number of residencies in DCA Print Studio, welcoming artists from all over the world into the studio to experiment with the equipment and work on new ideas with the help of our knowledgeable team. 

In November, we hosted Dominic McKeown as part of the first iteration of the DCA Print Studio x Jerwood Residencies. He worked in the studio over the course of six weeks, with his residency culminating in a performance that took place in Centrespace. Here, Dominic shares more about the project and what he achieved during his time at DCA.

Published

Wed 31 Jan

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Artist Dominic McKeown holding a papeer tissue with text and a drawing printed on it

Hi Dominic. We've really enjoyed having you in DCA Print Studio - can you tell us a bit about yourself and your practice?

I'm an artist from Belfast. I studied at Ulster University and graduated in 2017 with a BA (hons) in Textile, Design, Art and Fashion, specialising in print. I then completed an MFA in Fine Art, with a specialism within sculpture and installation, in 2020. I'm also a former Co-Director at Catalyst Arts. 

My work derives from exposing the tensions between domestic and non-domestic materials, existing in a state of flux between the two. Within my practice, I want to expand on how material qualities are sensed, interpreted, and understood to form space, and having established this foundation, I interlink the relationship between materials, architecture, fashion and identity as my main areas of research. 

I was drawn immediately to the amazing facilities at DCA, it’s one of the best print studios I’ve worked in.
Dominic McKeown laying out screen printed tissues on the drying racks in DCA Print Studio

What drew you to the DCA Print Studio x Jerwood Residencies?

I was drawn immediately to the amazing facilities at DCA, it’s one of the best print studios I’ve worked in. And the amazing staff meant it was invaluable learning experience as an artist. 

It was also an opportunity to create and develop a new body of work outside of Belfast as it was my first residency within my career. I have always had ambitions to expand my practice further afield from Ireland, to make new connections with artists and other organisations while developing my career. I believe this was the right opportunity to help me achieve these goals and I am very grateful for the support networks that Jerwood creates for artists and to DCA for the opportunity. 

Pile of paper tissues with text reading 'told' printed on the top tissue

Did you start the residency with any specific ideas?

Yes, I had a clear route on what I wanted to say with the project (Thick Skin). It was based a lot around my own personal experiences of education systems and being a neurodiverse person within them. It's the first time I have created work around these challenges within my education, so it was a new avenue to explore within my practice. 

I think it was also a chance to raise awareness and create a dialogue, as many people have very similar experiences to what I experienced and felt. It gave me the chance to speak out about these issues and structures within education and how they can create barriers for people, while also exploring how they can be examined and improved to create a more inclusive learning experience. 

I had the ambition to work with textiles to begin with, then that gradually expanded into working with paper and I began to experiment with what you could call a non-traditional paper for printmaking: tissues.
Artist Dominic McKeown performing in Centrespace

How did the project change over the course of your time in the print studio?

I had the ambition to work with textiles to begin with, then that gradually expanded into working with paper and I began to experiment with what you could call a non-traditional paper for printmaking: tissues. These became the main element for the project. They were something that I always remember having on me and in my pockets throughout my education - they were sort of a safety net. So naturally I thought that these had to be integrated into the project in some way but I had doubts that they would work because of just how delicate this material can be. They are known to be something that doesn’t last, sort of a throw away thing. 

As the project grew, I used a number of techniques to develop prints onto these gentle pieces of tissue and found that what work best for the detail and look I was trying to achieve was screen printing. Once that became clear as the main processes the project started to be more hands on. Overall, I was very pleased with how the project advanced during my time within the print studio to the performance at the end.   

Artist Dominic McKeown performing in Centrespace. He is sitting on the floor putting shoes on while covered in printed tissues

You finished your residency with a performance, what was the idea behind this and how did it come together?

Print and performance were two elements of my practice that had taken a side seat after university, due to covid and cost, but were both something that I had been wanting to reignite and push forward. I was interested in the expanded field of print and how performance could integrate with it and I saw this residency as great opportunity to explore my personal research and test new ideas. 

The tissue designs consisted of sayings and acts which had happened throughout my education. The thought process was to give these to the audience to read aloud back to me, then stick them onto my body. I believe these acts reference how we are “told” in education and how these things can stick with you throughout life. I was interested in how these can affect the direction of careers, personal lives and mental wellbeing. 

Two hands holding a paper tissue with printed text and drawings on it

What's next for the project and for you?

Thick Skin is something that I will always continue to develop and be present in future work as it was a deeply personal project. It’s something that will flow throughout future projects. I also have a plan to develop another set of editions of the prints that will be available to purchase. 

Recently I’ve been selected for the prestigious Freeland’s fellowship programme, as I begin my tenure as a fellow within Bath Spa university in early 2024. 

I’ve also been gathering researching over the past year, as I begin to develop a new body of work for an upcoming solo show at the Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, Belfast opening in June 2024. 

I would like just like to mention a massive thank you to everyone at DCA, it was a really lovely and welcoming experience. And thank you to Jerwood for funding the project, I’m very grateful to have gotten this opportunity and will definitely be back to visit DCA and Dundee.