In the seaside town Newcastle, at the foot of the Mountains of Mourne, artist Martin McParland finds his inspiration and source materials (quite literally – he collects lots of materials for his work scattered along the beach in the form of driftwood!). He’s just returned from a trip to the northwest Inner Hebridean Isles where he was on the hunt for mountains, Rum ponies and whiskey and water to inspire the sketch pad. I caught up with him in Newcastle and managed to persuade him to allow me to take some pics and ask him a few questions. I wanted to know what it’s like being an artist in an area of outstanding natural beauty and how he ever manages to get any work done!
Who or what inspires your work?
Mostly nature and travel. I think also, since time spent living by the coast the sea and the unpredictability of the weather are an indispensable combination of inspirations.
What’s a typical day in your life as an artist?
As a resident artist at Shimna Integ, I see my two groups of A level students and work with them . I also teach painting at two weekly classes. In between I normally go for a cycle with camera in tow. I find that is the best way to find that workable image which could start a new series of work. Finishing up with a walk up the beach foraging for that elusive washed up piece of magic driftwood..!
What is the piece of work that you most proud of ?
I collected about 200 pairs of dockers and ship builders gloves that had been preserved in the oil soaked waste ground where the Titanic centre now stands. I had started collecting them around 1993 when I was at University doing my Art Degree. I had them in boxes for a few years really struggling with what to do with them. About 1997 when I was now at Queen St artist studios, I had the opportunity to exhibit in Mostar, Bosnia. The exhibition was entitled No-bodies Children, reflecting upon the Serbian/croatian conflict which tore the country apart 5 years earlier. I had remembered watching the horror unfold on tv back then. I decided as the gloves now had a working title “lost hands”, I thought that an installation on the walls of the newly refurbished Gallery in Mostar with the gloves covering all the pillars throughout the building in and outside (incidentally), the gallery was the only building really left standing. I left the piece titled “Untitled 1887/97″, reflecting on the date I traced the earliest glove id number, which was a riveters glove, to the present day opening of the show.
Where can we see more of your work?
Nowhere at present other than private collections or hanging on sheds & trees with blue tits nesting in them!!
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
Probably being able to express myself beyond words through the art I create and altering others perceptions by challenging and provoking responses. Also not taking any crap from over paid mediocratic athocratic nitwits who have nothing better to do with themselves other than be self servient.