Dena O’Brien

Dena O'Brien profile studio shotMy creative journey started growing up as my father’s shadow – always wanting to help in his work as a plumber. He encouraged me to learn his trade and I enjoyed the process and skills involved, as well as the value of his work.

Continuing my passion for creating and exploring technical processes, I became intrigued with printmaking because of the procedures and unexpected outcomes. I studied at Falmouth College of Art and progressed onto a Masters at the Royal College of Arts where I explored a range of printmaking skills and techniques.

I enjoy the sequence and methodical process printmaking offers, and how each step towards preparing to print is essential. I love the unexpected results and how, although I am very precise, my visual outcomes are experimental and unfinished pieces of work. This keeps me exploring and developing my ideas; it brings me new challenges and problems to solve.

Based in Cornwall, I set up Kiwi Print Studio to produce my own work and to offer facilities to other artists. I also run workshops for people with all levels of experience.

Although cats aren’t necessary a focus in my work I think we have a lot in common. I have the eyes of a cat – always intrigued and looking out for the unexpected. I admire them for their warmth, strength and curiosity – characteristics that can be found in my work and in my personality too. I am a consistently curious printmaker – always seeking new processes to explore.

I decided to set myself a project for Mr Monty’s Art Emporium. I wanted to create something that would involve researching the background into animal portraiture. My influences were photographs taken by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. I was inspired by how he captures the strength in the animals and the relationship with their owners.

Using screen-printing, which is my specialist area, I chose to print a repeat portrait of Mr. Monty capturing his personality and strength, which at the same time reflects my personality.

I am able to offer commissions of other people’s cats using this technique. Each commission will capture the cat’s personality so it won’t just be a copy of the Mr Monty print, but a piece that has it’s own unique story.