As a child, Cristín was surrounded by art.
“There was art in our home, and we often visited galleries,” she says. “It was a seamless part of my childhood.”
Her first job was reading the news on East Coast Radio.
“I did the midnight to 7.00am shift for two months, then moved to RTE working on their new online website. I started on news, then moved into arts, entertainment and culture.”
Deciding to be an Art critic, she left RTE, and found a freelance role with the Sunday Times.
“I’ve been the Art Critic there since 2003, and I’ve worked at lots of other things, including as a yoga teacher and a Tech writing Corporate Trainer. But it’s Arts Criticism that grounds me,” she says.
Cristín has been trying to compile a book of art criticism for some time, and last year, when the idea of personal essays was mooted, it all came together.
“It started as 8 personal essays, but with redrafting, reads more like a memoir.”
Who is Cristín Leach?
Date of birth: 1976 in Waterford, but brought up in Dublin, Kilkenny and Cork.
Education: Kilkenny College, and Ashton School, Cork; University College Cork, French and English. “In second year, I presented an Arts show on the Cork campus Radio.” Dublin City University, MA in Journalism.
Home: Cork City.
Family: Two children, aged 16 and 14. Cats, Nico, River and Lily.
The Day Job: Freelance Art criticism.
In Another Life: “I’d love to be a theatre set designer.”
Favourite Writers: Maeve Brennan; Anne Enright; Vivian Gornick; Donal Ryan; Eimear McBride, Deborah Levy; Anne Patchett; Henry James.
Second Novel: “I’ve been writing a novella for a while. I’m also gathering things for another collection of personal essays.”
Top Tip: “Write what feels most urgent now.”
Website: Twitter: @CristinLeach
The Debut: Negative Space. Merrion Press: €14.95.
This deeply personal memoir explores how art can act as a salve. In eight, non-linear chapters, Cristín discusses her life, painting and writing, but at the book’s core, is the breakdown of her marriage. Her writing, with some details left unsaid, shows what happens when a marriage, and life itself, falls apart.
The Verdict: Original and memorable. This beautiful memoir is written with honesty and charm.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 28th May.
© Sue Leonard. 2022.