We were having a little scroll on Instagram during the week, and suddenly a bang of colour hit us square in the face! It was mesmerizing! Upon further investigation, we found that the picture was a makeover of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ that featured the most unbelievable group of inspirational women.
We knew straight away we needed to find the genius behind this class piece of art. Like, come on, just look at it! This is how we met 18 year old (yes, you read that right, 18!!) Orlaith De Búrca. We had a little chat and check out what she had to say!
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you are just so talented?!
My name is Orlaith de Búrca, I’m 18, and I’m an illustrator and designer based in Limerick. I run an online shop called Debúrca (orlaithdeburcadesign.com). I just sat (😉) The Leaving Cert and accepted my place in Limerick School of Art and Design last Friday! I mostly draw on my laptop, graphics is what I love and what I plan to study in college. I love all creative fields and have been drawing, filmmaking, editing, creating my whole life. It was inevitable that my career would end up in a creative field!
Could you tell us what inspired you to create this piece? (We love it!)
Well, I’m extremely passionate about social issues such as equality, environmentalism, and human rights. I try my best to reflect this in my work. Of course, a huge part of that is feminism, and looking up to the incredible women both in the past and today. I’ve seen many recreations of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ over the years – and I studied the piece in leaving cert art history. It’s an amazing piece of art, that I decided to put my own modern spin to. I wanted to make it bright, colourful, and cheerful to reflect the inspiring women in it.
Could you tell us why you chose these women to be included in this design?
There are 13 women in total in the piece – same as the no. of figures in the original last supper. I chose a diverse range of women – from age to race, to the field they impacted. There are women who did incredible things for people of color such as Angela Davis, Rosa Parks, and Marsha P. Johnson – who also fought relentlessly trans and gay rights, she started The Stonewall Riot, the first pride parade! There’s also women who did amazing things for women in science – Marie Curie, Valentina Tereshkova (first woman in space) Amelia Earhart, and the brilliant Greta Thunberg who is a fighting force today for climate action. We also have Malala Yousafzai and Frida Kahlo – both incredible feminists. I added some historical figures too – Rosie the Riveter, Anne Frank, and Ireland’s own Constance Markievicz. Finally, I added Jacinda Ardern – New Zealand’s current prime minister. She is an inspiration to young women interested in politics, and I have endless respect for her.
What’s it like selling your own artwork and getting commissioned to do designs? (I bet you’re so proud! And should be!)
Oh my god – It’s just the best thing ever! I love every second of it – including the stress of running a one-woman show. To be honest (not to be too cliché) if I was told a year ago I’d be working full time for myself creating art in a year’s time – I wouldn’t have believed you! I started on Instagram about a year ago, and I hadn’t planned to work as an artist until after college- but COVID hit and what else does an artist do during lockdown other than create? It wasn’t how I’d planned my after leaving cert summer – but I wouldn’t change it for the world! I adore what I do and I feel so so grateful to get to say that.
Do you have any advice for our shona readers who have an interest in art?
I’m not sure how qualified I am to give advice – I’m still learning a million new things every day. However, I’ll give it a go! I think a great idea is to test out new avenues in the creative world – I drew my whole life – pencil and paper illustration. But I then tried out digital art and I adored it. The same thing happened when I tried filmmaking – as creatives I think it would be unusual if we only had one interest! Try new things – you won’t regret it. I would also say (really hitting the cliches here) practice makes perfect – we can’t be amazing at anything the first time we do it. We need to work and work at something and then we get good – and in my experience, it’s always been frustrating but so so worth it!