Bren O’Callaghan is Visual Art Programme Manager at HOME and has an independent practice as a producer, curator and artist, based at Salford artist studio collective, Paradise Works. His work explores collaboration, creative compulsion and the championing of outsider enthusiasm. Projects range from the popular Sketch-O-Matic almost instant portrait booth, Scratch ’n Sniff Cinema series, BFI binaural broadcast Carnival of Souls and UK Producer for Peaches Christ Productions’ immersive cinema presentations.
Bren has produced an extensive range of artist films for John Walter, La JohnJoseph, Jamie Shovlin, AL and AL, James Richards and Rachel Maclean, curating AL and AL’s Incidents of Travel in the Universe, Cockadoodle: The Erogenous Art of Maurice Vellekoop, Rachel Maclean: Wot u :-) about? and most recently The Haus of Bruce LaBruce. His next exhibition as curator will be John Walter: CAPSID, coming to HOME in November 2018.
Q & A
What’s your earliest memory of the arts?
Growing up in my parent’s newsagents shop in Manchester, I remember going to visit the circus when it came to Platt Fields Park. It was as if a storybook had spilled from the page and become real: a genie of the lamp Bisto-whiff taken physical form. Lights, colours, costumes, unfamiliar smells and organ music. I knew then that I wanted to make the world a more magical place.
What has been your most difficult professional achievement and what did it teach you?
While working for BBC Live Events, I was caught up in a riot at a World Cup outdoor screening – I won’t name the city, as it was a stupid few responsible, and not the majority. Local authorities tried to point the finger of blame but I’d had the presence of mind to record phone calls to emergency services and capture my own witness statements. Our risk assessments also backed us up, and we were ultimately commended on our response. Always do your homework!
If you were stranded on a desert island, what one book/piece of music would you take?
Cloudbusting, by Kate Bush. I was fortunate to see her play live and it was the very last track she performed on the night… I almost popped from the release of anticipation!
What would your super power be?
Easy, telekinesis, the ultimate OCD-skillset. There have been moments when I’ve pointed at an object thinking I had a computer mouse in my hand to select it and lift. It’s only a matter of time before I can control a spinning orbit of pointy-tipped household implements…