Q&As with Ciaran Mahoney

Ciaran Mahoney What’s Your Background?

I was born and bred in Hartlepool and have been interested in art from an early age. I graduated from De Montfort University with a 2:1 in Fine Art in 2002 and have carried on painting ever since. I have done many jobs such as postman, call centres, learning support assistant and factory worker to keep me in canvasses. I returned to Hartlepool in 2006 and am now married with 2 young daughters.

Explain what you do in less than 100 words

My work is a series of acrylic paintings of ‘penny sweets’.

They reference pop art due to their subject and bright colours, and minimalism in both the composition and the stripping back of all non-essential details to leave a simple representation of an object.

They allude to identity, memory and childhood. They are bright,  optimistic and joyful.

They are also about exploring the qualities of the acrylic paint used to make them.

What are you working on at the moment?Mahoney,Ciaran36 Pinkies-Paynes Gray

I recently have been working on smaller studies of 20x20cm, just as a way to work things out or try different colours or just experiment. As a result of this, my work has become looser and more broadly abstract whilst retaining the same starting point for paintings of sweet things. A natural progression.

What five words best describe your work?

Joyful, optimistic, colourful, tactile, retro – tastic!

Which three artists most inspire you?

Wayne Theibaud – An American artist, most well known for his impasto paintings of cakes and sweets laid out in rows.  Usually labelled a pop artist, he rejected this label and said he just painted the things he liked.

Agnes Martin – An Abstract minimalist. I hadn’t really heard of Martin before I visited a retrospective at Tate Modern which was a revelation.

Peter Davies – A contemporary painter and one of the lesser known YBA’s who was featured in the ‘Sensation’ exhibition. His earlier paintings were fun and bright and his more recent black and white work investigates the possibilities of mark making.

Other artists I also admire are ( in no particular order) Jennifer Durrant, Jeff Koons, Patrick Caulfield, Michael Craig Martin and Mary Heilmann.

Mahoney,Ciaran36 Jazzies -BlueWhat’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

I have had lots of helpful advice over the years from teachers, friends and fellow artists but don’t recall a single piece of advice I’ve been given personally.  However my favourite quote is from Picasso who said “Inspiration exists but it must find you working” or Sol Le Witt’s advice in a letter to Eva Hesse “Just Do!”

Favourite or most inspirational place in Yorkshire?

Whitby Abbey, Rievaulx Abbey, Staithes, The Moors. Yorkshire is full of inspiration.

Tell us something we don’t know

I started my degree as a joint illustration and fine art degree, one of the few in the country to offer such a course, before switching to just fine art halfway through.

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