Adrian Margey: artistic entrepreneur

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Artist, musician and student Adrian Margey tells Meadhbh Monahan about his love of the North Coast and his vision for the creative industries.

From painting “the green open fields round Kilrea, the farm houses, and even the neighbours that called in to visit,” Adrian Margey has progressed to using his paintings to “explore the landscape and musical traditions of the island of Ireland as a whole.”

The 26-year-old was encouraged to “take up the brush” through his childhood experience of exploring historic artefacts and admiring old paintings in antique shops and auction houses with his father, an antiques collector.

Although his work incorporates landscapes, people and buildings from throughout Ireland, Margey admits he has “a soft spot for the North Coast.”

“It was usually the destination for family days out and now it’s the place where I go with friends to chill or on my own to clear my head when things around me get too hectic,” he tells agendaNi.

He is “intensely interested” in the theme of landmarks. “From Dunluce Castle, which I envisage as a proud warrior battling the elements, to the brave little Mussenden Temple which sits clinging precariously to the cliff top above Downhill Beach, the North Coast is laden with iconic landmarks which I feel give it a very strong sense of place,” Margey states. Whiterocks Beach, Ballintoy Harbour and the Giants Causeway are “magical places” where Margey sees different things each time he visits, “depending on the light, weather conditions and who I’m with.”

The classically trained singer finds that “musical and artist talents often go hand in hand.” He has had roles in musicals before but currently sings with the Belfast Philharmonic. His love of music, particularly Irish traditional music, manifests itself in his work.

“I have been exploring the themes of Irish traditional music and dance in recent times. I enjoy the dynamics at work in a traditional session; the shapes that the musicians make with their bodies as they play their instruments,” he explains.

He also tries to capture “the spirit of the music.” Margey outlines the process. “I use the palette knife with gusto to capture the energetic rhythms and languid brushstrokes to echo the sweet melodies present in the traditional music.”

Instead of going to Art College, Margey studied communication, advertising and marketing at the University of Ulster, where he gained a first.

“Through the degree I was exposed to the world of marketing and public relations; key elements required for the commercial success of any artist,” Margey points out.

A year’s placement with the communications and media department at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland saw him working on gallery launches, advertising campaigns, political lobbying and press and media relations. The experience proved “invaluable” in establishing his artistic practice.

Margey also finds time to complete a PhD at Queen’s University, where his doctoral research explores entrepreneurship within the creative industries, more specifically within the visual arts and theatre sectors in Northern Ireland.

Margey believes that “when we talk of creative industries in Northern Ireland, there seems to be an emphasis on new media, film and video gaming, often to the detriment of the core expressive, artistic fields.”

He wants fellow artists to remember that “many of these other industries stem from the arts.” For example, “a film uses actors, set designers, writers, musicians and composers [whose] skills cannot appear out of nowhere when the likes of HBO roll into town.”

The Kilrea man concludes by calling for “a strong, vibrant and sustainable arts sector at the heart of our creative industries.”

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