Artist and craftsman Maurice has debut exhibition - at 52June 14, 2012 - 7:00am
Shantalla Road man Maurice Walsh had been painting since he was a child – now at the age of 52, he is having the first ever exhibition of his work.
A Million Miles Away, Maurice’s debut show is currently running in the city’s Town Hall Theatre and it’s a varied selection with influences ranging from Adele to rap music to Galway’s wildlife.
Maurice, who left school at 17, trained as a cabinet maker and French polisher and has, for many years run a successful furniture restoration business in the Rahoon area of the city.
But at the age of 45 he went to GMIT to study art and since then has amassed a body work, which is now being shown.
Maurice was born and reared in Shantalla, and had loved art at school, first at St Pat’s where he got his primary education, and later at Fr Griffin Road Tech. There, one of his teachers was a man nicknamed by the students as ‘Arty’ Mulhern, who taught him a lot about painting. When he left school at 17 Maurice didn’t pursue art, but his career did take him on a creative path.
He served his time with Noel Cloherty in that family’s Munster Avenue Joinery, where he learned how to restore antiques. He loved it and still does, having subsequently branched out on his own.
“I’ve been doing it for the last 25 years. I do major restoration and replace missing parts on antiques. It’s part of our heritage.”
Throughout, Maurice had always been painting, but he wanted to improve his drawing, a skill he describes as “the hardest of all”.
He applied to GMIT to attend its art course for mature students and had to go through two interviews, a process he recalls as “daunting”. But obviously, the lecturers recognised his talent, and he was accepted.
Maurice continued on to complete his degree, which was tough, he says, because the classes were frequently in the evening after work, when he mightn’t be in the mood for turning to art.
“But I worked hard and really enjoyed it. I did a lot of drawing there to practice and kept it up when I graduated.”
Maurice explains that he got this exhibition in the Town Hall Theatre “by chance”. He sent an email with images of his paintings to photographer Jane Talbot, who is involved with the Town Hall and she thought they merited a show.
There are 34 pieces in the exhibition, which was opened on Friday night by Galway Arts Centre Director Páraic Breathnach.
Thirty-three of them were painted by Maurice; the 34th was done by his late father, George, whose love of art hugely influenced his son.
“He painted a lot, especially when he retired. He loved wildlife,” says Maurice.
Because George – who died 12 years ago – never had the chance to exhibit his work, Maurice decided to include a piece of his in this show as a tribute.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.