A gig at the Artists House in Cobh.

Cobh artist converts home into community space

By Marguerite Kiely

A welcoming place for creatives to exhibit their work motivated local artist John Adams to convert the ground floor of his home in Cobh into a space for the local community to enjoy.

The Artists House, founded by John in 2017, was created as a cultural community space hosting plays, music, poetry and storytelling evenings in an atmosphere of intimate friendliness.

John, a native of Dublin, first moved to Cork 40 years ago to study Fine Art at the Crawford College of Art and Design, before his career took him to London.

While there he painted theatre sets for the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Barbican and The Walt Disney Company.

He returned to Cork in 1996 and joined the Backwater Artist Studios and it was there he realised the need for more artists’ spaces.

“It occurred to me that there weren’t many places for artists to show their work. I decided to open my studio to the public and after that, myself and Suzie O’Mullane founded the Art Trail, which was for artists to exhibit in Cork,” said John.

John, who is known for his contemporary expressionist paintings explained that local artists can struggle to find galleries to host their exhibitions.

“They need to find alternative spaces to exhibit, so you will find their work in pubs and restaurants. People like myself are forced to create space to show our work.”

It was this challenge that motivated John to set up The Artists House, where he converted the ground floor of his home into a cultural community space, where he offers the gallery in his house to people to use for creative purposes.

“I bought the house in 2014, and it took me three years to set it up, so I’ve been running events since 2017,” he said.

“I host art exhibitions, story-telling, poetry and music evenings. Bill Griffin, the renowned artist had an exhibition here. I’ve had events like a clothes swap to raise money for the homeless, and last weekend I had Greenshine playing, it was a full house, 40 people.”

“Because it’s a private house, I run it like a private party. I’m trying to revive the tradition of entertainment in the home,” he said.

John has been inspired by Cill Railaig in Kerry where stone cottages from the famine period have been renovated and turned into artists' retreats.

The area has a storytelling heritage which harks back to an era when people entertained in their homes. John hopes to revive this tradition of storytelling and music with The Artists House.

“The atmosphere in my house is one of pure positivity and friendship. Everybody feels very welcome, they treat it with respect and I’ve never had any problems with any guest who comes. It’s all lovely people,” he added.