Catherine Ennis, Project Controller and Artist

Klimt, Miro and Van Gogh are my favourite artists. I have interpreted them all and have always been drawn to their unconventional style. I have completely transformed Klimt’s ‘Kiss’ and ‘Mother and Child’ while keeping them recognisable as the pieces they were based on  I find the more I push outside of what I see before me, the more satisfying the end result.

Hi, my name is Catherine Ennis and I am Project Controller for Hamilton Robson AV Ltd. From about the age of 8 or 9 I can remember always wanting Art related gifts for birthday and Christmas, be it an easel, or a Letraset book of every font, which I still have!  From the age 14 every present I gave was either a painting, a drawing or a personalised hand drawn card with a Calvin and Hobbes strip on the front relating to that person.  I studied Fine Art for a year when I left school but that came to a halt after a year as I fell pregnant with my son Denis. When he turned 1, I decided to go back but instead I changed courses to communications and media production in Colaiste Dhulaigh and parked the painting.

I picked up painting again when I was 28, and my daughter was nearly 2. I had gifted a Winnie the Pooh painting to a nephew and enjoyed it so much I started to do a few more pieces. Next thing I know my Dad has asked me to do an interpretation of one of his favourite paintings, Boats in the Harbour by Maud Lewis. Maud was a naïve artist who had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis which limited her ability to move and hold brushes, but she still painted. Her story really inspired me. Next up was Van Gogh’s Café Terrace on the place du forum. Once I had completed that I was looking around for the next interpretation I could do. A lot of friends were getting married or turning 30 and I began gifting paintings at these occasions. I found myself learning from each piece as I was copying style, something which Picasso did a lot of before he found his own style. I became more confident and bold and started to make a painting unique to the person who I was doing it for. A silver, black and pink Starry Night was one of my boldest ones to date. And it suited the recipient so well. I try to avoid portraits as if I don’t think it looks like the person then I will never hand it over. I like to be able to play around with what I am working with so abstract art and impressionism would be what I am drawn to. The one I have painted the most is The Garden by Joan Miro. I have raffled interpretations off for Charity on many occasions and a lot of friends have a version in their houses. Klimt, Miro, Van Gogh, Dali, Frank Miller and Lichtenstein have all been part of my collection.

Catherine’s Version of Joan Miro’s The Garden

Both of my parents can draw. My mam used to doodle a lot, so I think I learned how to sketch quite early on from just watching her. She also used to draw faces with the lines defining proportions, which I found fascinating as a small child. My Dad used to paint murals on our walls of dinosaurs coupled with hand written stories about dinosaurs for bedtime. We had no TV for some time growing up mainly for financial reasons so storytelling and creating became very important in our house. We would put on shows, have pretend businesses, make up songs and generally create. My Dad who was a stay at home dad, would make playdough out of flour and water and colour it with food colouring. We would use lentils and rice for playing with our dinky diggers.  I would say this creative environment pushed me naturally towards art, which was then encouraged by my parents. My grandfather used to take me to the national gallery also – these are memories I will always treasure. Going to visit Caravaggio’s ‘Taking of Christ’ with him back in the 1990’s was pretty special. I am a big fan of John Myatt also, who served time after being involved in the biggest art fraud of the 20th century with one of his ‘fakes’. He now runs a very successful ‘Genuine Fakes’ where he copies originals for a living and now his ‘genuine fakes’ have some fakes of their own circulating.

Sir Ken Robinson talks about learning through aesthetics. I feel there is a connection between that and a healthy work / life, technology / creative balance. I will always be creative in what I do in my day job. I have been known to draw the attention of a large group within a company through humour, poetry, or visual stimulation. I think if you can grab people’s attention re a possibly mundane subject through something unexpected, that is half your battle won. By empathising with team members in your approach to a new system, communicating your understanding of their own frustrations, and proving that you are working ‘with’ them always, you can get buy in from pretty much everyone. Coming up with the system is not the battle it’s getting buy in and implementing it successfully that is the challenge. By involving the team from the off set you are giving them something they have created themselves. So, when I take a ‘challenge’ in my art, it begins with an idea someone has, some back and forth collaboration and feedback, followed by some suggestions and a little bit of trust and faith. The end result often exceeds expectation if creative collaboration is applied.  This applies to both my art and my day job  Every challenge is different and always a little daunting, but the journey and learning along the way brings really special results.

If it was a sure thing, I would move to London, buy and run a café on Brick Lane and hang my paintings there for sale. But I think I would always have to involve an element of systems consultancy, perhaps through an online service so I can pick and choose what companies I can review and help.

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