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I first developed an interest in art history after a solo trip to Italy when I was nineteen years old. I had planned to spend two days in Florence but stayed for two weeks having become absolutely captivated by the beauty of its art. What followed was a life-changing realisation – firstly, that I felt truly happy when staring at these artworks and, secondly, that I wanted to know more about the meaning behind them and about the people who created, commissioned and viewed them. I have since been fortunate enough to follow my passion, first as a student and now as an art historian.

I recently completed an MLitt on the fascinating relationship between the female viewer and depictions of male religious figures in Renaissance art in UCD. Prior to that, I completed an MA with the Courtauld Institute in London in 2007. This course was an inspiring and invaluable experience which built on an interest that had been greatly encouraged during my time as an Art History and English undergraduate in UCD.

As a student, I had the opportunity to travel widely for study and research and to visit exhibitions. This is something I enjoyed greatly, as it’s a wonderful way to visit a city – and it’s now a joy that I get to share with others. In recent years, I’ve led two group trips for the Irish Association of Art Historians – one to Amsterdam and another to Vienna. I’ll be organising at least one annual group trip to a European destination, as well as many visits to collections around Ireland.

Over the last ten years, I’ve found my calling as a teacher of art history. It started when I was asked to tutor the European art survey course in UCD for both first year undergraduate and part-time evening students. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and was delighted to be asked by the UCD Adult Education centre to run a course for them (where I still teach at least one course each term). Past subjects have included ‘Florence, Rome and Venice’, ‘Impressionism’, ‘Post-Impressionism’ and ‘Modernism to Contemporary Art’.

For the past few years, I’ve also been teaching an art appreciation course for the National Gallery of Ireland as well as giving public lectures in the gallery and giving talks on aspects of the collection for various art and community groups around Ireland. These have included lectures on ‘Michelangelo’ and ‘Turner and Romanticism’ and talks on ‘Caravaggio and his followers’, ‘Baroque art’ and many others relating to specific exhibitions.

While my area of specialty is European art from 1400 to 1950, I’ve developed a particular interest in 19th and 20th century Irish art. I currently run courses and give talks and tours with the aim of inciting in others an interest in the wonderfully diverse world of Irish art. I particularly enjoy placing these works within their historical context and have gathered many fascinating stories and surprising facts that relate either to individual works or artists or provide an intriguing insight into the relationship between Ireland and its art.

I find it to be especially rewarding to research, write and teach on subjects of my own choosing and enjoy having the opportunity to share this passion with my students. The core of my teaching methodology is to remind my students that art is subjective; each viewer sees and experiences any given piece of art in their own way and this too can change over time. I love exploring this flexibility of meaning. While I will always provide background and context to a subject and will always cover traditional and current art history theories, I ultimately want my students to find their own voice and engaged individually with art. I never try to disguise my own biases or fail to express my own views even if they are contentious – to me that is where the fun is to be found!