FEATURE: Danielle Wallace on the joy of doing what you love

For Danielle Wallace, the last 18 months have been a whirlwind, working as apharmacist during a pandemic, and also launching her art business online.

The Belfast native has lived in Derry since 2014, after meeting her husband Richard in Cork.

A pharmacist by trade, Danielle has always had an artistic side, but it was only in the last year that she has started to promote her beautiful, unique, resin art.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’, Danielle said: “I’m Belfast born, and I went to university in London. I was there for four years to do a pharmacy degree, and then came home to do my pre-registration year here. I met my husband who is a Derry man, in Cork. I met Richard in Cork.”

The couple were engaged and married within the year, and moved to Derry in 2014, where they built their house. Danielle decided to dedicate a room to art, as it had been a passion from an early age.

“I’ve always loved art, I did art at A-Level, and wanted to go on to do Fine Art at university, but I loved maths as well. My mammy asked me, do you want to be an art teacher? I was like, no, I just want to be an artist. She said artists only make money when they’re dead, if you want to make money go and do something else. So that’s how I ended up doing pharmacy!

“My studio, it’s like therapy to me. I think when you have small kids, you’re tired and you can’t go very far. Richard does shift work in Sligo, he works for the Search and Rescue helicopter, so when he’s gone, he’s gone. So I needed something at home for me.”

Danielle stumbled across a video online of an artist pouring a liquid, and she thought it looked “quite interesting”.

“From there I ordered some resin. It’s a liquid. It comes in two parts - you mix them together and a chemical reaction occurs. So for me, there is the science part, and then there’s the art part!

“When you mix the two, the bonds start to happen and it produces heat, and it’s an exothermic reaction. Then you have a cure time, a time of how long you can work for. Because it’s liquid, the surface has to be level. Everything before you pour has to be completely precise. The room has to be a certain temperature, the surface has to be level so I’m out with my spirit level. I have it measured out and mixing, my gloves on, my mask, I’m like a crazy scientist.

“Once you have all of those things ticked, then it becomes very free. I would have a sketch maybe, and try to stick to lines, or have an idea in my head. I use my heat gun as well, as that helps to get the air when I’m mixing, as you have to mix for a certain amount of time. You can use the heat gun to create effects. It’s just really fun,” she said.

Danielle creates a range of original cheese and serving boards, as well as coasters and original art pieces using resin.

She said that she wanted to create something functional, as she believes “everyone should have original art at home”.

“There’s nothing like it. For someone to have an original piece of art and to use it every day, that’s something special.

“I think when we are having people back in our homes, I love having people around and I’m running to get my boards. A lot of my customers who have got boards, have come back to me and have looked for something for the walls. It’s a really good starter for original art.”

Danielle launched her business online in September 2020, after some gentle encouragement from her husband.

“Richard encouraged me to put up a Facebook page, but I didn’t really want to put myself out there to be critiqued. But even getting feedback from people has been amazing. Last September was when I properly started and from then I have had no bad feedback. It’s been unbelievable.

“I think this time, over the last year, has let people think about what they really love to do. I love art, and even if I wasn’t selling pieces I would still be doing this.

“I don’t think I’ll ever do another mad Christmas like last year. There’s no one else in the workshop, the studio.

“It’s me that’s sitting with the sketchbooks, the boards. I prep them, I tape them, I oil them, I sand them, I pour them, brand them, pack them. That’s before you look at your social media.

“I love it, but I would only recommend doing this if it’s something you love, because otherwise it would be too hard.”

Danielle has high praise for the people of Derry, and the support they give to local artists and businesses.

“Derry is a very insular city, but once people get behind you, they are so supportive.

“There are so many great businesses, and how creative people are! There are so many creatives, that it actually drives other creatives to be better.

“It’s so tight knit. I have been overwhelmed, and I have to pinch myself. I’ve been doing it all along, but behind closed doors.

“I think sometimes you get into a rut and hide yourself away, but getting positive feedback and people actually liking what I am making, it’s amazing,” she said.

Looking to the future, Danielle hopes to expand her website, and continue doing what she loves.

“You never know, the tide turns so quickly. Keeping going, doing what I love.

“Without it, this last year honestly would have been much tougher. Even for your own mental health.

“Life is so short, do what you enjoy. I love the pharmacy because it has the patient contact, but the art is me, me being free, me having my own time, and when someone comes and buys something it’s an added bonus,” she added.

Visit www.daniellewallaceart.com to view some of Danielle’s art.