Bill O’Callaghan

Bill O’Callaghan
131 Summer St.
Vineyard Haven, Ma.,

Bill O’Callaghan was born in Cork City Ireland in 1960 and grew up in a wild and bohemian environment through the 60’s and 70’s. He went to Irish Catholic grade schools, held various jobs as a teen, including telegram boy and street cleaner, (he recalls the latter being really awful in the early morning when one was a member of the mess makers a mere few hours before). He lived back and forth between England and Ireland until he purchased a pony and cart and resided on beaches in Southern Ireland selling pony rides and living happily hand to mouth.

After a fateful night in a pub and a cute American student, Bill ended up on Martha’s Vineyard in a bleak February, for a couple months stint, and never left. Completely overwhelmed and under experienced he began his life here trying to adapt to American life.

When he treated himself to pottery lessons with the Chilmark Potter he discovered a new side. Not only did he love the craft itself but found the stories and landscape of his youth emerge in his work. He began making pots with ancient Celtic designs and stories on them and then moved towards other motifs like horses, dogs, and mermaids- some customer driven and some personal favourites.

His work continues to progress and change. The past five years he has collaborated with another artist to do a show at Polly Hill Arboretum, (this will be the fifth summer), which entails a story that one walks through and experiences scenes that incorporate his pieces with the trees, plants and nooks of the arboretum.

This has led him to an unexpected twist in his creativity. He is beginning to combine his pieces with photography. By scouting out interesting spots that have an otherworldly feel, he sets up a scene that might invoke a story. Once captured he designs a frame suitable from scavenged and found wood to make a folky frame and then tops it off with a ceramic figure. When looking at the finished piece one is whisked away to another place, and each persons’ imagination is his own.