Catching up with West Belfast born and bred Dr Josephine McCormick at her current exhibition, 'Muse', at Belfast Print Workshop, it was great to smell the inks again and have a stroll around the purpose-built gallery space at the edge of the workshop.

Josephine, a past student of Saint Rosa's, remembers around the age of eleven standing outside the art college wondering what went on inside. With her brothers focused on engineering careers, her dad wanted her to be a nurse or a secretary. Josephine had other ideas, however, and made it her mission to study art. After a narrow brush with a bomb, she decided it was necessary to get out of Belfast to do so.


She said 'Not being a cat I only had one life and not nine and needed to leave the city'

Completing her degree at Liverpool John Moores University she went on to add a postgraduate diploma in printmaking and book binding in Croydon and a master's at Camberwell College of Art, London. She notes now that with a very different contemporary political climate here, students have less of a need to leave to study and with changes to the student grant/loan system it can be more prudent to stay. In 2004, not yet being done with education, she completed a part-time PhD at Belfast School of Art and gained her doctorate.

While Josephine's career has taken her around the world to exhibit, teach, research and experience residencies, she points to her time at Atelier Contrepoint, Paris, Academy of Art University, San Francisco, and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology as being particularly formative for her. In Australia she developed and exhibited a series of large-scale prints around mobile phone technology – prints that glow in the dark. Having spent some years working on how to make the invisible visible by making prints from sound she has moved on to focus on things we love.

During lockdown many people had negative experiences and artists were no exception. She had time to look at some of her beliefs and strip away those that no longer served her. Finding herself rediscovering Catholicism while looking after her elderly mother, who passed away earlier in the year, her prints are joyful and celebratory as they move into light. The colours and energy of the print Joy seem to point to an optimistic future.

Artist Liam de Frinse and Dr Josephine McCormick at Belfast print  workshop.JPG

Artist Liam de Frinse and Dr Josephine McCormick at Belfast print workshop.JPG

Fine art printmaking is a much misunderstood medium. It's highly technical, it takes time to master and a high degree of patience is required to excel, but it can be addictive. Josephine's art is held in many collections and if you would like to take a look the exhibition runs until November 26. Entry is via the buzzer on the ground floor of Cotton Court Building, 30-42 Waring Street, Belfast, open 9.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

A wee reminder also that if anyone wants to attend the Irish language tour of the Royal Ulster Academy exhibition at the Ulster Museum it's free on Saturday, November 26. Booking is not required.