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Meet the Artist: Rory Cushnahan

Meet the Artist: Rory Cushnahan

 try and stay away from painting soldier stuff, but it still impacts my paintings

because it's me, and it's what separates me from other artists, I guess, my story.

And that's why I'm here today.

My name is Rory Cushnahan, and I guess I'm an artist

or I paint, in my spare time.

I don't really have a style.

It sort of depends on the mood I'm in, and how I feel, what I want to paint.

But I do paint abstract, and I do paint portraits. Sort of like a street style.

And sometimes I mix them.

Growing up in Belgrave, when I was a kid,

There's a bit of a, there's a lot of graffiti there and

I used to always look at older guys doing graffiti, doing murals, doing trains.

And I'd see paint strips on their shoes, and think 'oh man, they're cool'.

That's not the style I got into. I wanted to just do my own thing.

And, yeah I just always wanted to learn to do a portrait.

So I sort of influenced myself in some ways, and then sort of taking a bit from here and there, but

you know, in saying that, I'm covered in tattoos.

You know, being around that culture, I guess, has influenced me quite a lot as well.

Just been doing things that, that other people aren't doing.

If you can push a message, in doing something, and lots of people can view it at the same time,

that should be the purpose of art, I guess.

Or it should at least make you feel a certain way.

And it comes down to personal taste.

My partner's sick of me painting black and white, depressing paintings.

You know, but that's what I like painting.

So I paint for myself but, you know, I love it when people appreciate my work.

Well I've done two figures, and on of one of them I've used,

you could say sort of like a realism style, that I usually use doing portraits,

Depending on my patience and how I feel on the day. The plan was to do that on both faces,

But, as you can see on the other face I've used sort of like a spatula,

and done more of an abstract. Lots of paint on the face.

So I wanted like a mix. I wanted it to look like sort of an old, religious painting.

But, yeah, I wanted sort of street art style,

sort of, and something that's a bit more modern.

A lot of my paintings they have words. And sometimes the words are more meaningful than the acutal painting.

A lot of mates since coming back from Afghanistan, we're all quite young,

but we've got bodies like ninety year olds, so we're injured,

some people have mental health problems, so, I've written 'Self help'.

I find a lot of situations, at the end of the day you can only help yourself. A lot of people get counselling and,

you know, see professionals, and they're still left with, they need to help themselves.

Identity is such a key thing to a soldier. And people lose that when they get back.

Because they don't know, they leave the army, they lose their identity, they don't know who they are.

They never wanted to be a builder, or a plumber.

It's about identity, so I wrote 'Lost' and 'Found', because in some parts of his life is probably lost,

and then, you know, found as well. And finding yourself can take a long time.

And I find that some of my mates are still searching. And it's a difficult thing and that leads to poor mental health.

But the most important thing written on his face is 'War is home, home is hell'.

And I say that is because, basically no one wins out of war.

You know from what I've personally seen, a lot of soldiers come back, realising that, you know, the problems begin when you get home.

So they find war becomes home for them.

And they get comfortable.

So, it's this sort of back to the basics, it's either you die or

you stay alive and you eat and you fight and that's it.

You don't have to worry about paying bills and your house, really.

You know, you can switch off. And you sort of forget what reality is like to a certain extent.

When they, a soldier comes back home that's when reality kicks in and you

have to start paying bills, you have to start putting the pieces back together,

And lose the fight then.

There's more soldiers committing suicide than losing their lives in battles.

So, home is hell, unfortunately.

When I did the army, it was near, close to five years that I completed it and at that age

it's such a long period of time because I joined when I was 18.

It really shapes you, you know. Like it's such a, you're vulnerable and

you become a soldier for life at that point in time.

When you go from being a teenager slash kid to soldier, you're a soldier forever.

So, with my paintings, like, I try and stay away from painting soldier stuff but it still impacts my paintings.

Because it's me and that's what separates me from other artists I guess, my story.

I've just, learned the hard way I guess. You know, I haven't gone to any art classes or anything.

I've spent some time around some guys that can paint. And I've asked some advice from, you know, a couple tattooists.

Painting is hard to teach. It's something that you just need to learn the hard way.

You have to just keep practicing and practicing.

Or just keep failing and failing and failing, until it leads to some sort of success.

Some artists that are just, you know, their painting skills aren't great but

what they put on canvas is just amazing and I really connect with it.

But back when I was a kid I'd be saying like, 'ah it looks like a child painting'. But,

It's so hard to do a child-looking painting, it's amazing, you know.

So, yeah. The more I like art the weirder I get, I guess. I'm realising I'm connecting with these other people.