A selection of Martin Ireland’s watercolours will be gracing our walls for the coming months as our Ganton Street store doubles up as a gallery. Much of the work was done during a residency at Tooting Bec lido last summer. Themes about swimming has been a subject that he has been consistently working on since he moved to south London about 12 years ago and is something that he enjoys as well as painting.
‘It helps me with the process of thinking about colour and composition and sorting out what to remember and process into images. My studio is near Tooting Bec Lido, one of the largest in the UK. As a frequent visitor to the pool, I often meet other regular swimmers going for an early morning or evening dip, regardless of the weather. It’s a very friendly atmosphere and there are many different types of people who swim at lidos: wet suited tri-athletes in training to elderly regulars who’ve been going for decades. It’s this mix that is so appealing, along with the effects of a large rectangle of water open to the elements which changes colour and mood all the time.’
There is also the appeal of painting the unclothed figure in their swimming training or enjoying themselves in water. Some onlookers may think that my work follows that of David Hockney’s paintings of outdoor pools in California of the 1960s, but my work is more intimate, as if you had opened a door and glanced in at the scene.
What is so interesting about these images is that they are watercolours, traditionally a very difficult and delicate medium to manage on a large scale. But Martin has developed his own unique approach to the medium and constructs his images in layers, adding and subtracting details at each stage. He works on several paintings at once, like a production line. Each painting can lead and influence the next. The approach is far from traditional and expresses an ability to change and alter things as the image emerges from the paper. His approach is more like oil painting and the thick textured paper he uses is more like canvas.
Martin graduated at Camberwell School of Art in 1989 and has since developed life drawing programmes for architects, advertising agencies and private groups throughout London.
If you would like to see more work on display in Battersea or attend one of his workshops you can contact Martin on 07946 354 852 or email: email@example.com for an appointment.