Friday 9 June 2017 - My cultural life: Artist Orla Walsh - Read More


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Orla Walsh, painter and merchandising artist

I‘ve been an artist for about nine years and before that i was in graphic design. I always wanted to paint, so when I was pregnant with my first daughter, Ali, 13 years ago, my husband said, “Why don’t you give it a go?’.
I went back to art school basics and painted a lot of Chilli peppers and other fruit and vegetables in bright colours. I was also enjoying painting glass bottles as I liked capturing reflections. Then, one night in the pub, a friend asked if I could paint a ketchup bottle for another friend who was getting married and who loved ketchup. It was one of those mad discussions. The commission did not come through, but it got me thinking.
I started to paint Heinz bottles with colourful backgrounds - bubblegum, peanuts, whatever - and I would leave the bottle half empty so you could see the background coming through.
I had paintings hanging in St.Stephen’s Green railings one day in 2003when they were spotted by Richelle McCarthy, a lawyer from Heinz Ireland. She told me the paintings were infringement of copyright and I’d have to take them down. I was thinking, “They’re going to sue me”. But she was so lovely about it and said she really liked them.
Richelle took the photos and showed them to Heinz’s head office in Pittsburgh. They bought them from me. Richelle sent me a text saying she was in the boardroom and they were hanging there. She put me in touch with Heinz in Britain and in 2010, it approached me to commission to celebrate and advertising campaign.
Nigel Dickie, director of government and corporate affairs, asked me to do the painting for Dave Woodward, president of Heinz UK and Ireland at the time. Later that year, I went to Heinz with an idea. I brought a mug, mouse pad and notebook, all with my paintings on them. They said, “We’re a food company, but these are lovely, so leave it with us”. Soon they arranged for a licensing agent to work with me, and we chose paintings to go on a whole range of products: lap trays, mugs, aprons, tea towels. All have, “Collaboration with artist Orla Walsh” on them, which is lovely. They have just gone on sale in 157 BHS stores.
I paint every day until 3pm in my studio , next to my kitchen. I have three girls - Ali, 13, Charlie,11 and Tess,  - and mix home duties with work.
I still paint ketchup bottles, but Heinz owns the copyright. I can produce only 150 prints of each original painting. I also love painting crisp packets, and when I wanted to paint Tayto, I contacted the company and Tayto said, “Go for it”, and it has one of my paintings in the boardroom and sells my prints in the Tayto Park.
After I initially approached Tayto, I was sent a truck with boxes of crisps. The girls were over the moon. Now they ask, “Is there any chance you can paint Maltesers, mum?.”
Richelle died in 2008. She always said she loved my paintings, but would never except one from me. After she died, I gave one to her mother - it had the solgan “I love Ketchup”. When the merchandising agreement with Heinz came about, that was the first painting they chose, which was lovely because it had the connection.
I recently had a commission from a gentleman at the head office in Pittsburgh. I had known my paintings were in the boardroom, but I had never seen them. After nine years, I asked if they were still there, and I was sent a great photo. It was amazing - it finally made it real, not just a story.                          

- Kate Butler



Irish Independent

Heinz means deals for ketchup artist. Andy Warhol did it with Campbells soup tins and now Irish Artist Orla Walsh has turned the humble Heinz ketchup bottle into an iconic form of pop art

The Irish Times Magazine

Orla Walshes depictions of iconic brands such as Tayto, Heinz and Guinness are gaining an international following

IN Magazine

Orlas rise to success is as charming as her artwork

Womans Own

Heinz has teamed up with pop artist Orla Walsh to design limited edition bottle jackets for their new Tomato Ketchup with Chilli

The Irish Times Magazine

Home is where the art is.. In the frame Artist Orla Walsh

Sunday Times

Yankee Doodles for Irish pop artist Walshes first Heinz painting nearly led to legal strife

Sunday Independent

An Artists own Brand Orla Walsh has created some highly distinctive works of art

IMAGE Magazine

POP-tastic Orla Walsh Who needs Campbells soup anyway?

Irish Daily Star

Bressie shows sweet side getting behind Blooms cupcake camp with pop artist Orla Walsh