“Ireland in the Rare Oul Times” November 13 -26th
In this he is a voyager into the Ireland of his youth, portraying the country in the 1950’s. Before glass supermarkets and traffic jams clogged up small villages. Before, as he puts it, “Ireland rushed into the Euro world like a Celtic tiger”
Born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland, Will Millar grew up in a family where music and art were encouraged. His mother supported his first art lessons. He recalls fondly how he used to thin his oil paints by dipping his brush into the glass oil lamp that lit the home, with dinner being eaten at a table strewn with paints and brushes and small unfinished works of art”.
His art lessons also included happy days spent learning from an elderly art teacher who lived nearby in a house “full of glorious clutter”, as he writes in the preface of his new Art book, ‘Scenes from my Irish Rovings” Will used to cut sticks for her fireplace and in return she gave him art lessons. Not an arrangement he cared to share with his neighbourhood tear-aways!
Over the years, Millar nurtured and developed his special talent into a style that evolved uninfluenced and unencumbered. In truth, his unique style owes much to the fact that his art college was in the Irish countryside. His emotionally charged portraits of pubs and bucolic scenes depict an era that has vanished in Ireland.
Once a year Will returns to visit his homeland, he tramps the by-roads where he goes looking for lost youth. He finds it in old cottages, peat fires, warm dark pubs and pints: unfortunately, the old characters are gone but through his paintings, not forgotten.
Will Millar’s purpose in painting is meditative, but it is also a basic desire to remember his roots, the Ireland of his youth. The artworks in “Ireland in the Rare Oul Times” are paintings of a by-gone era: plough horses, steam trains, hay-raking by hand, gypsy caravans and tinkers (the original Irish Rovers), old girls in their Sunday-best hats playing cards in a pub, the men with their cloth caps and pipes, horse fairs and farmers’ markets, old storytellers and donkeys on the beach, jigs and reels and shepherds with their dogs. All his cherished memories come lovingly to life on his canvas.
Will is very proud that Petley- Jones Gallery has offered him the chance to share his world with a wide audience.