Growing up in the foothills of Benaughlin Mountain surrounded by creative family members, Mark Healy’s interest and enthusiasm for art and design grew from an early age.
His journey as an artist took him from his hometown of Fermanagh to his studies in England and for a time in Seoul, South Korea.
Now based in Enniskillen, he is involved in many aspects of the art world, from the creation of his own pieces to the conservation of the works of others.
Although he works in various media and styles in his own practice, Mark is currently focused on his illustration work, where he enjoys “telling the small but very important stories of neglected groups in society”.
Here, he tells The Impartial Reporter about his most ambitious piece to date, where he exhibits his work and what art means to him.
What is your artistic background?
THE PEOPLE in my family have always made art in one form or another, so I grew up with the idea that I could contribute to what was done before me.
I went to Fermanagh College to take my A-Level in Art and Design, then I got my distinction in my foundation course.
From there, I obtained my Honors BA in Contemporary Art and Art in History at the University of Huddersfield.
I also became a representative of my university. and went to their sister university and studied for three months in Seoul.
After my studies here, with the help of Ken Ramsey, I began to actively work in the art world in all its aspects, from creation to curation.
What inspires your art?
MOST of my ideas come from my own experiences and other socio-ecological events that I think need to be highlighted.
There are so many fantastic things in the world to be inspired by; everything has an interesting aspect, if that interests you!
I am also a big fan of artists such as Van Gogh, Katsushika Hokusai, Jake and Dino Chapman, Linda Montano, Tehching Hsieh, Rita Duffy, Laurence O’Toole, Diane Henshaw, Jeff Walls, James Jean and many more.
Who / what are your biggest influences?
One of my biggest influences is John Paul Sartre. I love French, German and Greek philosophy with their intriguing stories that describe and question how we perceive the world we live in and why we live there.
Is there a specific place where you do your work? Do you have a workshop?
MY PARTNER and I are fortunate to have purchased our first home, so my practice is run from my own shed, the dining table or – much to my partner’s chagrin – the living room was where I did it. most of my work, so i guess right now it’s my studio.
I also work in Ken Ramsey’s Picture Framing as a framer, art restoration and exhibition installation.
Fortunately, Ken allows me to use the studio from time to time, when needed.
What has been your most ambitious play to date?
DURING my university studies, I decided to challenge myself in the field of installation because it had always piqued my interest.
I have done large-scale, long-lasting installations in the town and countryside of Huddersfield, where I installed 28 hanging chairs of all different styles, trees, fire escapes, bridges and lampposts.
It took a lot of organization and communication with the different governing bodies, which was probably the hardest part.
The best reward of this installation was seeing people sharing pictures of themselves having fun and sometimes sitting in my chairs doing what I wanted them to do, that is- that is, take time for themselves and admire their surroundings.
What are the different art mediums you use and which is your favorite?
I WORK with pencil, pen, watercolor, ink, wood, fabric, and sometimes furniture and other items, but my favorite will always be to work with a pencil in hand and a good camera. reflex.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on advancing my story through my illustration work, as well as a few pieces of watercolor that I had left out for a while, as I have long favored India ink.
Do you exhibit your work somewhere?
I AM currently in two amazing international group shows hosted by The Drawing Box International which is curated by the wonderful Diane Henshaw alongside great artists.
There is currently a large art exhibit going on in Mumbai, India, and the other smaller art exhibit is currently going from the Galway Arts Center in Cyprus, to continue from there, which is a wonderful way out of the city. look from your own country. .
Before that, I exhibited in group exhibitions at the Higher Bridges Gallery at the Clinton Center (which unfortunately is no longer with us).
I also had my first solo show there, titled Snaring Bewildered Birds, which was a great experience.
Artistic projects planned for 2021?
I’m working on a few projects this year, but at the moment I’m very happy to be a member of the FLive Arts Festival, where I’ll be looking forward to hosting arts and music events later this year. Watch this place!
What has been your favorite project to date?
MY FAVORITE project so far was definitely the great opportunity to install Sir Anthony Gormley’s Beckett Tree, for the Beckett Festival of the previous four years.
This project meant a lot to me because, through a few conversations with the festival director and the people living around my house, it was decided that the sculpture would be based on the mountain I grew up on.
The location of the sculpture was on the border with Ireland, which was ideal for actors performing Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot, around the sculpture.
It was also set up in the very picturesque area of Malin Head which was a pleasure to see as well.
I’ve been a fan of Sir Anthony’s work since my college days and never imagined having the chance to touch one of his sculptures, let alone install one of my favorites.
What do you do when you’re not doing art?
I LOVE walking the rural landscapes of the island of Ireland and finding secluded campsites with my partner.
When I’m at home I enjoy reading, playing guitar, writing my own music essays, tinkering at home with DIY projects, and fixing old furniture we find in our shed.
When we can again, and when it is safe, I also enjoy traveling through Europe, spending quality time with my family and seeing as much art as possible in all its forms.
How would you describe your art?
MY ART is sometimes graphic, abstract or surreal. At the moment, it’s based on illustration, where I like to tell the small but very important stories of neglected groups in society. I want to use art as a force for enlightenment and healing.
What does your art mean to you?
FOR ME it’s more the opportunity to describe my own thoughts and worries and put them alongside the aspirations we all have for the future in a kind and visual way.