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
Patrick O Donoghue
Dip Dab bags and bottles of fairy liquid and Heinz tomato ketchup are among the items of nostalgia, and every day life that have inspired Orla Walsh's work which has led to comparisons with Andy Warhol, the kingpin of pop-up movement 'Easy Singles, My mother put those in my sandwiches every day when I went to school, the Lucozade bottle with the plastic wrapper that crinkled; Mum would be listening to Gay Byrne on the radio and I will be home sick from school and the bottle would come up the stairs. I think I want people to be nostalgic about the things I paint' Walsh said. Walsh is bringing a collection of 15 Brown Thomas bags to this year's Art Source exhibition which will be held in the RDS for November 10 to 12th.
As the only girl of family of six, every Christmas my mother and I would have a special shopping day out. Just the two of us We would shop in Brown Thomas and the atmosphere was one of luxury and beauty. Walsh said each of the bags were designed to reflect the diverse personalities - from the Romantic to the Over-thinker - of others who held vivid memories of shopping in Brown Thomas, which she still recalls as a magical experience from her youth. When I got married years later, it turned out, my new father-in-law was the Managing Director of the shop in those years. The bags are an icon of Ireland's history. My husband would say that I'm just as happy with the bag, it doesn't matter what's inside, she said.
The luckiest moment of Walshes career was also one of the most terrifying when displaying six paintings of Heinz ketchup bottle on St. Stephens Green Dublin. She was approached by the corporate lawyer for the brand and issued a cease and this warning, I thought I was an awful trouble, but she got in touch with me a few weeks later and Heinz bought them for the World Head Quarters in Pittsburgh where they hung them. She sent me photographs of them and I thought Jesus Christ from St. Stephens Green to the Heinz World Headquarters. She really really helped my career.
Does watch ever feel as though she's been pigeon hold by the Ireland answer to Andy Warhol, tag, or by the comparison to be a creative burden, if anything Walsh is flattered by the parallel, ‘when in my life, did I ever think that Andy Warhol would be mentioned in the same paragraph as my name I'm absolutely honoured, but I don't think I deserve it at all. I'm definitely influenced by him’ she said. Walsh has collaborated with Karan Bystedt, a LA photographer, whose pictures of Warhol taken in 1982, quickly gained an iconic status and have since been dubbed ‘the lost Warhols’. Warhol was known for eating the same lunch every day, so I decided to add an Irish take that a manipulated the image to make it look like he was holding a pint of Guinness then I added a packet of Tayto next to him Walsh said.
More than 15,000 people expected to attend the art exhibition in the RDS next month, where more than 100 original piece of art will be available for 100 years each on a first come first served basis.