Cork man who started carving wood to pay for a home invited to city center art exhibition – Cork Beo

Cork man who started carving wood to pay for a home invited to city center art exhibition - Cork Beo
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The homeless Cork man who used his old carpentry tools to carve stunning wooden designs has been invited to showcase his work in an exciting exhibition featuring up and coming Cork artists.

Earlier this month, Cork Beo told the story of Paul Burke, a 50 year old former carpenter from Minane Bridge who lost his home after falling on hard times. Ava Hayes, curator of Cork Craft and Design’s EMERGE 2022 exhibition, saw the article and was “so touched and inspired by his story,” that she got in contact.

Ava has invited Paul to take part in the EMERGE exhibition which is all about showcasing recent graduates and new makers from around Cork and to help give them a start in the professional world. Ava told Cork Beo: “the EMERGE team would love to give this man an opportunity to exhibit his work in the heart of Cork City.

Some of Paul's pieces

Paul says he is “blown away” by Ava’s invitation, and is currently working on putting his portion of the exhibition together. He has also been touched by the huge reaction from the public, adding; “the reactions are absolutely amazing, way beyond what I had expected.” He has taken to Facebook to thank people for their kind words towards both his art and his touching story.

EMERGE runs in the MTU Gallery, No. 46 Grand Parade from the 4th – 29th of August. The exhibition will be fully open to the public and there will be an opportunity to purchase the work of the artists onsite and online. Paul’s work will be displayed to the left of their main windows, in conjunction with the main show.

The 50-year-old spent the better part of 30 years working as a carpenter, but six years ago he had to give it up after he started suffering from seizures.

Paul's carving of the Celtic symbol for grandmother, mother and child

Since giving up work, Paul says he has fallen on hard times and after struggling to make ends meet, he was evicted from his house. His mother is the person who encouraged him to start making art.

“I was feeling down about everything and my mother gave me a sketchbook and told me to start drawing,” Paul told CorkBeo. He said he was always interested in art so he started drawing out different designs. He had all his carpentry tools so he decided to get some use out of them. After he first put pen to paper it wasn’t long before the stunning designs started flowing out on to the page and Paul was able to start bringing these designs to life through wood carving.

Paul has started to sell some of his pieces at local fairs and online through his Instagram page. Paul uses his local community notice boards on Facebook to share his art with people and the response is always fantastic. People can’t get enough of the work and always want to see more. The power of social media has really helped more people discover his art and it’s looking like it’s only going to get bigger.

One of Paul's designs

Paul’s talents don’t stop with wood carving however, he’s also able to create beautiful pieces made of slate that he also makes in the shed. He said he’s sometimes commissioned by friends to make grave slates for deceased love ones.

Many of his designs are inspired by old Celtic knots and imagery, with Paul saying he’s always had a love for those cultural symbols. These Celtic pieces are quickly becoming a staple in his work.

“My main priority is trying to sort a place to live first before I can start making more. I’m limited with space at the moment and it takes a lot of time to make the stuff,” Paul said. He told CorkBeo he’d love to scale up his work but his current living situation is getting in the way of that for now. The shed he works in is quite small which restricts the amount of pieces he can work on at any one time.

Paul has spent years waiting for social housing, but the current housing crisis has meant he’s yet to hear anything further. He hopes he’ll find somewhere to live soon and can devote more of his time to art.

This content was originally published here.