Sculptor Martha Cashman: ‘The power of the hammer and fire intrigued me and set me on course’

Martha Cashman has always been hands on. Growing up on a small holding in rural east Cork she was “happiest walking on the open earth” and “feeling the soil” between her fingers. Her uncle Mick Carey, the last blacksmith in Youghal, “our medieval town”, reminded her of “the materials I love to use”.

Cashman loved “the sparks, the twisting of metal, the smell. The power of the hammer and fire intrigued me and set me on course, knowing I too could give voice to something made from this magical material”.

Her grandfather worked in the brick factory in the town so “I suppose the attachment to clay started earlier than I’d thought” and her grandmother “taught me how to plant seeds, appreciate the joy of the seasons and all things growing symbiotically in nature”.

Hospitalised at seven for months, Cashman spent her time drawing and colouring. Her parents, living a distance away, “could only visit once or twice a week and had seven other children to care for”, but visitors brought pencils, crayons, books, art materials. “Even then I knew from that point this was something that would sustain me,” she says.

When she was nine, a beloved aunt died. Cashman was horrified to see her uncle and three brothers, “in delight of smashing everything”, throw her cherished china in a bin. “I nearly fainted, kicked up a fuss, packed our van with her belongings, and I still have a special ceramic vessel of hers. It sits on my bedside locker.”

At secondary school, “a stuffy, conventional convent”, all Cashman was “really interested in was art” but “we were never allowed to work with clay, as much as I begged, and with a brand new kiln locked away. It was painful and pushed me to work with clay in the future.”

After school, Cashman didn’t feel ready for art college, and sought a painting and decorating apprenticeship despite her career guidance teacher telling her it was a man’s job. She later worked in New York and Boston where she set up her own decorating business and where she loved visiting museums. “When I saw The Noguchi Museum in Queens something just clicked. I just thought this is it: spectacular sculptures, and the garden was pure Zen.”

​In 2002, when her father died, Cashman returned to Cork for a short break that has lasted 20 years. She began her art studies, at CSN College of Further Education, Waterford, where her ceramics tutor Stefanie Dinkelbach “really believed in me”.

Later, having graduated from Crawford College of Art & Design, Cashman developed her eco-awareness project, More Clay Less Plastic Ireland, “where I offer creative clay workshops with eco-related themes – wellness and team building in the workplace”.

She has also worked with fashion designers, and developed sculptural jewellery. Large sculptural works also “come naturally to me for some reason”.

Porcelain, especially, “works for me. It’s seductive. I roll it very thin and like how the light can travel through it. I also work with Raku firing. The work is removed from the kiln at 1,280 celsius, placed in a metal container with sawdust and this process determines the outcome of the colourful glazes.”

These open-air, colourful ceramics, ‘Bird Feeders’, based on pollinator flowers, Cashman hopes will “make a difference and help share a positive message to show kindness to ourselves and our environment”.

On show: Two to view

Sheila Rennick Bang It Out Rennick’s new work explores couples, one that are “at once engrossed and repelled by each other”. Her colourful canvases capture unsettling and humorous scenes in which her characters struggle with the situation that they are in, and explore “societal hierarchies and the patriarchy”.| Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin 8, until June 17

193rd RHA Annual Exhibition The RHA Annual, one of the most popular art exhibitions, includes emerging and established artists. Following a rigorous open submission process the chosen artists exhibit beside Academicians. This year the catalogue features a work by all of the 455 including Model Making by Zsolt Basti. RHA, Ely Place, Dublin 2, until July 30

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan’s exclusive take on the day’s news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

News Related


BREAKING: Charlotte Sena found after desperate search for missing girl, 9, abducted from park

Charlotte Sena has been found alive after the girl went missing during a camping trip in Upstate New York. The nine-year-old was last seen at Moreau Lake State Park in ... Read more »

Steve Barclay announces plans to stop trans women using female hospital wards

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay speaking during the Conservative Party annual conference in Manchester (Peter Byrne/PA) Trans women could be prevented from using female-only hospital wards under plans ... Read more »

World Cup Touchlines: Fiji’s Josua Tuisova plays on despite his son’s death

Here are some of the stories making the headlines in the Rugby World Cup as Ireland continue their preparations for Saturday’s clash against Scotland on Saturday in Paris. Fiji’s Josua ... Read more »

Families who lost loved ones in Covid pandemic ‘will not be ignored’ – inquiry chair

Inquiry chair Baroness Heather Hallett arrives at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry at Dorland House in London, during its first investigation (Lucy North/PA) Families who lost loved ones during the Covid-19 ... Read more »

Genius! This is the easiest way to find your perfect lipstick shade

We can’t imagine how much money we have spent trying to find the perfect lipstick shade, it has to run well into the €100s. There is just something a little ... Read more »

Pocket watch ‘used by naval officer at Battle of Trafalgar’ set for auction

A pocket watch believed to have been used by a naval officer during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 is to go under the hammer at auction. The 235-year-old silver ... Read more »

HS2 north of Birmingham: What work has started and what might happen next?

The Prime Minister is reportedly preparing to axe plans for HS2 to run from Birmingham to Manchester. Here the PA news agency answers 13 key questions on the situation: (PA ... Read more »

Kerry Condon and Saoirse Ronan lead the way at Louis Vuitton’s Paris Fashion Week show

Actors Kerry Condon and Saoirse Ronan represented Ireland at Paris Fashion Week, sitting front row at the Louis Vuitton show. Condon – who starred in Martin McDonagh-directed film The Banshees ... Read more »

KSI releases Tommy Fury CCTV footage and asks 'what happened after your shirt came off?'

KSI has attempted to leave Tommy Fury looking red-faced after releasing CCTV footage of his boxing rival on social media to reignite their feud. The pair are set to fight ... Read more »

Health Experts Reveal the Benefits of Krill Oil

Krill Oil image Expert opinion from Aparna Nemalikanti M.Sc. Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics · 10 years of experience · India Krill is a small crustacean consumed by whales, penguins and ... Read more »

Family members removed from court by gardaí as Enoch Burke refuses to purge contempt

There were familiar scenes of disruption today as members of Enoch Burke’s family were removed from a courtroom by gardaí during a hearing reviewing his continued detention for contempt of ... Read more »

'It's a terrible journey for mothers' Mike Tindall recalls wife Zara's miscarriage

Former rugby star Mike Tindall has spoken about how his wife Zara suffered a miscarriage and the pain that she went through during this time. In November 2016 the couple ... Read more »

Students set to march to the Dáil and urge government to tackle accommodation crisis

A student march to address the current accommodation crisis is set to take place in Dublin tomorrow. Students from across the country will take to the streets of Dublin city ... Read more »

Triumph Introduces 2024 Scrambler 1200 XE And X Models With Updates

2024 Triumph Scrambler 1200 Family 8 The house of Hinckley more clearly delineates the differences between the XE and X models for a wider range of riders. It’s October 3, ... Read more »

Minge Lane's bushes are being trimmed and we don't know why people are laughing

Minge Lane was named one of the rudest street names in Britain (Picture: SWNS) Foliage on Minge Lane is getting a well-deserved trim – much to the delight of everyone. ... Read more »

Trio win Nobel physics prize for tiny light pulses that capture changes in atoms

Scientists Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier won the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physics for creating incredibly short pulses of light that can capture processes inside atoms and molecules, ... Read more »

Man in court accused of firearms and explosives offences

Smith appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court (Jane Barlow/PA) A man has appeared in court charged with offences involving firearms and explosive substances after a bomb disposal squad search of a ... Read more »

Firefighters rush to Zoe Ball's home after dangerous blunder

Firefighters were called to Zoe Ball’s home after she accidentally left a candle burning. The television presenter, 52, explained the situation on her BBC Radio 2 programme on Tuesday. She ... Read more »

Swedish military to help police tackle surge in gang violence following spate of bombings and shootings

Sweden’s prime minister has said that the military will soon assist the police with some duties to help deal with an unprecedented crime wave including almost daily shootings and bombings. ... Read more »

Ireland 'frothing at the mouth' to face Scotland - Kilcoyne

PROP DAVE KILCOYNE believes Ireland’s players are “frothing at the mouth” to face Scotland and insists there is no sense of self-satisfaction following a euphoric win over South Africa. Andy ... Read more »

Reports of split in Team USA emerge as Europe march towards Ryder Cup glory

America’s Ryder Cup team have been outclassed by a rampant European side at the Ryder Cup in Italy and now rumours have emerged of a split in Zach Johnson’s camp. ... Read more »

Horror as man stabbed to death in broad daylight with bystanders ‘rushing to his aid'

BRISTOLPOST A man was stabbed to death in a terrifying attack in broad daylight. Avon and Somerset Police have arrested a woman, in her 30s, on suspicion of murder following ... Read more »

U2, Sphere review: this spectacular concert will change live entertainment forever

Are you ready to have your mind blown? On Friday night in Las Vegas, U2 inaugurated the new state-of-the-art Sphere venue with a concert that sets a new bar for ... Read more »

Boy Band News! 'N Sync Are Back With A New Song

Le groupe N Sync inaugure son étoile sur le Walk of Fame 30 April 2018 Hollywood California Ch ‘N Sync are a famous American boy bandThey came to prominence in ... Read more »

Status Yellow rain warning takes effect in three counties

Status Yellow rain warning takes effect in three counties A STATUS YELLOW weather warning for rain has come into effect in Cork, Kerry and Waterford. Met Éireann is cautioning that persistent ... Read more »

Baz Ashmawy's new quiz show The Money List will test your smarts

RTÉ’s new quiz show The Money List will make its debut on Sunday night and see two teams of strangers test their smarts to fill in missing answers on a ... Read more »

Jonathan Afolabi on the double to boost Bohemians’ European hopes

Jonathan Afolabi of Bohemians celebrates after scoring his side’s third goal during the LOI Premier Division win over Sligo Rovers at Dalymount Park in Dublin. Photo by Tyler Miller/Sportsfile Having ... Read more »

Triple lock warning as state pension payments fall behind average earnings

A couple check their finances State pension payments have failed to keep up with the growth in average earnings despite the triple lock policy, an expert has said. The full ... Read more »

The late Queen's snack before breakfast that her grandchildren would surely approve of

Queen Elizabeth Queen Elizabeth’s favourite snack before breakfast was something Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis would surely approve of. The late Queen, who passed away on September 8, ... Read more »

Bad breath may be 'cured' with common snack - it's particularly effective against garlic

After a generous helping of garlic bread, you may decide to cover your mouth when talking with others or even reach for your toothbrush – but there may be a ... Read more »
Top List in the World