Finding refuge in art and music – William Costelloe

William Costelloe’s primary passion since he was young has always been fine art and music. He says he’s lucky to have two very expressive mediums in his life.

“Fine art, especially when I am painting, is such an inward expression for me, while singing and playing French horn on the other hand are very outward expressions. I love experiencing both types,” he says.

William paints mainly using oil on canvas and has recently begun experimenting with video work that explores movement in boxing clubs. He also observes these environments in the view of a spectator, which has given him inspiration to develop his work further, giving it an “extra layer of interpretation and depth,” he says.

Born in Dublin and moving to London with his family, he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at Camberwell College of Art while studying under Daniel Sturgis. “I really wanted to continue creating artwork and developing my practise and understanding of fine art after my academic schooling, so it was very important to me to go to art school,” he says.

With his father working in fashion design and his late uncle Robert Costelloe a very accomplished sculptor, it’s no wonder William was inspired to join the colourful world of art and creativity with an optimistic and imaginative mind. Aside from these two influential people in his life, William says it was Da Vinci’s Lord Supper in Milan that inspired him to embark on becoming a professional painter.

“Whenever I am looking to find some inspiration and I am suffering from what I am sure all artists get is ‘creative block,’ I always look to Cezanne and Degas, these two artists have always inspired me. For me, they will always be my favourite artists,” he says.

His works

Asked about where he retrieves his ideas for his art pieces, William replies: “galleries, museums, theatres, films and making sure you are aware of all of your surroundings. You never know when you’re walking down a street and you find a sudden moment of inspiration. It’s always a thrilling experience!”

Although William enjoys painting surrounding landscapes when he goes on holidays around Europe, in his Boxing Series of works he particularly enjoys painting people. “It’s a challenge but painting people in movement or in ‘action’ always gives a great sense of life to my work,” he says.

He currently has six paintings for his boxing series and is currently working on another. “I have no idea how many drawings I have as I constantly draw whenever I have any spare time, but if I had to guess I would probably say I have about 50 drawings that I made from my boxing club visits and drawings for analysis and compositional purposes.”

William says with his works, he always strives to give his audience a sense of something they personally have never experienced before. “In regards to my boxing club series, I want to encourage the audience to view my work visualising that they are the spectators watching what is going on in the club and therefore really engaging in the space.

“From my inspiration of Degas’ work, I create my boxing paintings in a panorama-like design, stepping into a large space that is notably broad and narrow. I aim to actively encourage the scanning response in several ways, for example seizing the attention with some feature or ‘happening’ in the foreground. I want to keep the audience looking and scanning,” he says.

What makes his work unique is the topic and concepts he is currently working on with his boxing club series, he says. “There have been lots of works created by many artists on ‘boxing’ such as George Bellows – mainly the boxing match, boxer fighting boxer. However, my work on the other hand explores a different field of boxing, the boxing club environment, the objects associated within the environment and the movement I am exploring in a boxing club.”

The way William paints and draws is always in figurative style. “My drawings are quite contrasted in terms of my lights and darks but my paintings are a little more subtle,” he says.

“I do lots of drawing of where I am visiting and creating work on. It helps me see what I am visualising in a quick manner. For me, drawing is the best way of seeing ideas and it helps me with composition and analysis of what I hope will be the final painting,” he says. “It never ends up what I am visualising; it always changes and turns into something new and unplanned. That’s what I love about painting!”

William says one of the main challenges to any idea you have in order to create work is that there is always doubt. “I take it in a positive way and try and push myself to create something unique and exciting as the George Bellows work was for me.”

Plus, the upside always outweighs any downside he faces. “Everything about my work is enjoyable. I love it. I’m very happy to be working as an artist and not being stuck in an office working from nine to five. I enjoy the sense of freedom and creativity and I hope I can do this for the rest of my life,” he says.

The future

William is currently working on video and film about boxing clubs, which he is very excited about. He also hopes to do as much as possible in the future and continue with his singing and French horn playing. “Having a solo show in a very respectable gallery would be a massive dream for me and being able to support myself financially through my artwork would of course be another dream and hopefully a very able goal. I will just have to wait and see. As long as I can keep creating artwork and keep enjoying what I do, I hope to do it for the rest of my life,” he says.

William is currently based in London and completing a Masters course at Chelsea College of Art. “I have exhibited my work in galleries in London and Dublin and currently have work showing at the Clyde and Co Global law firm Head Offices in London as part of the Clyde and Co Art Award selected artists group.”

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