Adrian Margey’s innovative depictions of Ireland’s people and landscape are an exciting fusion of the contemporary and the traditional. His idiosyncratic interpretations of favourite scenes from around the North Coast and beyond are captivating an ever-growing following.
Did you always want to be an artist? How did you get started?
From as early as I can remember I was sketching and messing about with paints. My love and indeed obsession for art continued throughout my schooling, and I was very fortunate to have wonderful teachers who identified and nurtured my artistic flair. At weekends you could find me at the kitchen table making clay models or painting my rural surroundings. Around the age of twelve I attended some night classes with a local landscape artist. I was probably the youngest in the class by about twenty years but it didn’t deter me. I got a great grounding in colour mixing, composition and the class encouraged an already keen interest in landscape painting. At this stage I was following the traditions and conventions of Irish impressionist landscape painting. A couple of years later I wanted to make my own way…to bring something different to the table. I began experimenting with colour and simplifying form. These two aspects have continued to intrigue me.
Although I studied A-level art I decided not to go to Art College. I had a strong idea of the direction I wanted to take my work and was keen to continue experimenting on my own terms. So instead I pursued academic study, juggling my degree in Communication Advertising & Marketing at UUJ with my painting. At the end of the first year at university I was offered my first solo exhibition. To my surprise it was a huge success with many of my pieces being purchased within hours of the show opening. This was a great boost to my confidence and spurred me on to continue painting, experimenting and showing my work.
Who or what inspires you as an artist?
I find endless inspiration in our country’s beautiful and varied landscape. I am particularly enthralled by coastal landscape and now live on the North Coast where the light and elements enhance the iconic scenery. An interest in landmarks, both purposeful and non-purposeful has grown out of my interest in the landscape. I’m fascinated by how landmarks seem to connect us all, providing a shared backdrop to our lives and memories. Although my upbringing was rural and I now live on the Coast, the ten years I spent in Belfast has also given me an appreciation for the built environment. Solitary buildings and expansive cityscapes are key strands of my work. My other great love is music and I am often motivated to capture the dynamics of a traditional session.
Have any other artists been influential in your work?
Although my early influences were found within Irish impressionist landscape painting, my interest in colour and simplification of form has led me to the work of the Fauve artists like Matisse and Derain. Belfast artist Markey Robinson’s naive work has also been an influence. When I visited Ecuador and Peru, the work of the indigenous artists struck a chord with me. Their bold joyous colours and use of simplified form chimed with what I was trying to achieve with Irish landscape painting. I also admired how the indigenous artists used art to express and record cultural traditions.
What makes your pieces unique?
I try to bring a fresh perspective to familiar places and scenes…I try to see the world through different eyes if you like. Viewers often comment that my colourful pieces are positive, optimistic and life affirming.
Is there a specific technique that you use?
I have a few different styles and use a variety of techniques to achieve the results I’m after. Although I use brushes, I particularly enjoy painting with palette knife. I love the freedom of working with palette knife…I find it a very expressive way of working.
As a means of creating texture in my work and particularly in pieces which feature buildings, I often pipe paint on as if icing a cake. Once this has dried, I apply the layers of colour. In recent years I have become a fan of finger painting also. I find this method extremely liberating and such a direct way of working. Drip painting is relatively new to me, but I find it really effective, particularly in the depiction of cityscapes.
Do you have a favourite material that you work with?
I use acrylic for all my pieces. Acrylic is an incredibly versatile medium that can be used almost like oil or watercolour. Acrylic is renowned for its vibrancy of colour and ability to dry quickly. I find its quick drying properties very useful as I often build up layers in my work – needing one to dry before adding another on top.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently finishing a collection of pieces for my next solo exhibition and sale of work at the Culloden Estate & Spa, Belfast. The show will run from Thursday 1st – Sunday 4th November and admission is free. This has become an annual exhibition. This year’s collection will comprise forty original pieces depicting the North Down Shoreline, Mournes, Belfast, North Coast and Donegal. I am also in the process of expanding my range of limited edition prints and have a number of interesting commissions on the go.
Do you have a favourite piece or one that you are most proud of?
It’s impossible to name my favourite piece, however, my favourite subject to paint is undoubtedly Dunluce Castle. I enjoy juxtaposing the geometric shapes of the ruin with the organic shapes of the cliff below. In my work I depict the two as melting into each other.
Where can we buy your work?
A good place to start your search for my work is on www.adrianmargey.com where visitors can view an extensive portfolio. I hold a number of large solo exhibitions across the country each year and my work is on sale at these shows. Alternatively, my work can be viewed year-round at my Studio and Gallery at the junction of Mark Street and Main Street Portrush. I share the studio with my wife (and fellow artist) Evana Bjourson. We started the studio a few summers ago as a pop-up. Such was the response to our first summer season we decided to make it a more permanent base. The gallery is open to the public each Saturday: 11am – 5pm throughout the year with extended opening hours in summer. Private viewings can be easily arranged outside of these hours by calling me on 07841593762. Of course, a big part of my work comes from commissions – where clients ask me to paint a piece especially for them. Often the subject will have significance for them – whether it be a depiction of the beach where they used to play as children or a mountain path where they have walked for years.
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