Local Artist Wows London

Tony Gunning 1

Artist Tony Gunning, pictured right, is just back from his whirlwind trip to London, where his painting, Kerry Humour, (pictured) is on show at the 246th Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition.

This year’s open submission attracted 12,000 entries. This prestigious exhibition runs from 9th June to 17th August and is one of London’s top visitor attractions, with an annual attendance of 200,000. “It is a bit of an honour to appear in this particular exhibition and one that those in the art business would really appreciate the significance of,” Gunning told NewsFour.

Gunning spotted the scene on a visit to Kenmare and thought it typified Irish wit. “It’s dark, and probably not my usual style, but it’s quirky. I was driving around on a rainy day thinking this is so drab, where would you find humour here? Then I spotted the scene.”

NewsFour asked Gunning, whose previous career was in the civil service, about the art business. “There are many ups and downs, and if the only reason you’re doing it is to make money, you wouldn’t carry on. I have had some great success and at one stage couldn’t keep up with demand. I have noticed tough times for the galleries though; in particular 2010, when I saw a gallery close down after 47 years.”

Speaking of his artistic style, Gunning states, “It is very hard to put me in a box, which can be difficult for an artist. Many of my pieces can be described as modern realism. People sometimes assume that means they are dreary, but bright colour is my trademark. The colour attracts attention and then the picture tells a story.”

One of Gunning’s pieces, entitled Open for Business, is a good example of this. It depicts a pair of trainers hanging from electric wiring, which notifies the sale of drugs in an area, hanging alongside a pair of guns, and set against a bright blue sky.

Gunning also has an interest in painting urban and rural landscapes, and tells us he wants to capture a dying way of life before it is gone for good. He speaks of his observations in the West of Ireland. “All the young people are leaving with no one to run the farms. Post offices are shutting down, leaving no sense of community. Villages are dying as people take their custom to bigger towns. I paint these scenes with a sense of nostalgia and think, ‘If I came back here in 50 years what would I see?’”

Now and again, Gunning does something completely different. His lifelong connection to the county of Waterford led him to champion the promotion of a national treasure, Mount Congreve Gardens.

He held an exhibition in 2013 at the municipal gallery in Waterford, which was opened by the head of Bord Fáilte. The publicity from this was considered to have made a huge difference to Waterford as a tourist destination.

NewsFour asks Gunning’s wife Ellen which of her husband’s paintings is her favourite. “Oh, I love every one of them. If I had a choice we wouldn’t sell any.” Kerry Humour was recently purchased by a gentleman from Belgravia.

Original works by Tony Gunning can be purchased at the Marley Park Markets at weekends, and his websites are www.tonygunning.com and www.blueskyart.ie

By Maria Shields O’Kelly