To be an artist, you need several things: the tools of your art, ambition, curiosity, patience and courage. Connell McMenamin has all of these things, but if you put them into a pie chart, the biggest slice by far would be courage. Four years ago, a diagnosis of prostate cancer put life in very sharp perspective for Connell, and he realised that corporate life, which had been very successful and stable for his family, was not where he saw himself in the future.
“Ten years ago, I started saving to do something else… start my own business or go travelling maybe.” He was drawing, visiting galleries and taking short courses with LARA (The London Atelier of Representational Art) and London Fine Arts, (“scratching an itch,” as he describes it) and daydreaming about working at an atelier, where he could paint all day and learn art as his trade. “Prostate cancer was kind of like a little warning from the universe that made me re-evaluate things,” he says matter of factly. The second message from the universe came in the form of some changes at work. And the third? “I was in the car with my son, who was eleven at the time, and I said, ‘what do you think of my artwork?’ And he replied “well, it’s alright, I quite like it. But you need to commit.” Connell laughs with fondness at the memory, but his son was right, and he knew what he had to do.