Artist's Reward Focus - Martin Irish 


Completely Unique Painting on Reclaimed Parquet

Martin Irish is an abstract painter based in Inverness, usually working on a large scale with a mix of materials to create beautiful artworks which invoke atmosphere and emotion for the viewer like a shoegaze guitar solo.

The Midmills building is a grand beauty, whose interior includes the most intricate, ornate details despite the vast scale of the main hall. We knew that Martin had already been working on large reclaimed pieces of wood for his most recent works, so as a homage to our wonderful home, and to create something truly unique, we asked him to try something a little bit different to support our campaign to complete the final transformation of the building…

We had to lift 195 square metres of original parquet tiles from our 1895 Victorian school in order to re-instate the assembly hall space. We hope a number of these will be returned, but in the meantime, some museum like (in smell and feel) tile pieces which can’t be re-instated risked going to waste. Taken by the romantic notion of turning these small tiles, over which so many lives have tread during the lifetime of the building, into a work of art, Martin agreed to take on the challenge!

My work takes me on a journey, a journey of discovery that immerses deep within myself existing as a thought, an idea. This idea can then go through many stages of development, underlying textures, the advance/retreat of paint layers. Erasing a layer of paint from a textured canvas can reveal a new direction for the work. Working in an array of media to evoke emotions in a nonlinear fashion, bold or subtle, each form their own conclusion; I invite the viewer to draw their own conclusion, what they see is their own personal experience.”

Martin trialling ideas in his studio, Inverness Creative Academy

What can supporters expect from this completely unique artwork, so thematically linked to your usual practice and at the same time flipping it on its head? 

I’m very excited about exploring these new materials, despite the challenges! I plan to work with 4 or 5 tiles at a time, and develop the work based on how they respond to my interpretation as I work with them. The tiles have great texture so I might leave some of the wood exposed, and use them as a basis to work on mood, light and dark, and discover where they take me as I work. I’d like to figure out a display method which allows the piece to retain some of its original form / feeling / light and shade.

So what about this project made you willing to take on this very small, but pretty big, challenge?

Since I moved into my studio in 2018, Wasps and this lovely building, and the new community here, has given me a lot of support and a lot of opportunity. For me this was a chance to offer that support to Wasps, the community at Inverness Creative Academy, and the building in return.

While we have reached the campaign’s target, there is still more we can do to ensure that Inverness Creative Academy is shining at its brightest when we finally open the doors to the public. Every extra £1 we raise will help us complete this project, illuminating great art in the Highlands and opening up this hidden gem of a space for everyone to enjoy.

You can get us closer to making this a reality by sharing our campaign.

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