A Question of Taste with Martin Gale

Martin Gale’s latest exhibition runs at the Lavit Gallery, in Cork, until November 11. The Kildare-based artist is a member of Aosdana and of the Royal Hibernian Academy.
A Question of Taste with Martin Gale

Best recent book you’ve read:

In Parenthesis, by David Jones. Jones was born in Kent. In 1915, then an art student, he went to war with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, where he fought in the battles of the Somme and Ypres. The book is a prose/poem relating his experiences in WW1 from December, 1915 to July, 1916, when he was wounded during the assault on Mametz Wood — one of the most disastrous actions in the battle of the Somme.

Of more recent books, I really enjoyed Helen MacDonald’s H is for Hawk.

Best recent art exhibition you’ve seen: In Belgium, last September, I went to see the ‘Ghent Altarpiece’. It is a large and complex, 15th century Flemish altarpiece, designed and painted by brothers, Hubert and Jan Van Eyck.

It is a masterpiece of European art and one of the great treasures of the world. There is not the space here to describe the experience of standing in front this work — overwhelming and awesome do not begin to cover it.

Closer to home, Dublin-born, Cork-based painter, Patricia Burns Taylor’s gallery exhibition, earlier this year, was a memorable display of bravura painting, with a well-worked balance between content and process.

Best piece of music you have been listening to lately: Loads of Bob Dylan, especially since he became a Nobel Laureate. Highway 61 Revisited has been in the player in the car for the past week.

First ever piece of music or art that really moved you: When my brother and I were children, our Dad brought home a gramophone and a number of records, among which were a couple of Elvis’s RCA singles. When ‘Jailhouse Rock’ hit the turntable at max volume, the world turned upside down, and nothing has been the same since!

TV viewing: Antiques Roadshow and University Challenge are staples, also Gogglebox and Grand Designs I see regularly. Also, I watch rugby.

Radio listening and podcasts:

I have the podcast of Grayson Perry’s 2013 BBC Reith Lectures, ‘Playing to the Gallery’.

Very funny and full of good ideas and insights into contemporary art. He debunks a lot of myths and says things you wish you had thought of!

You’re curating your dream exhibition — which three artists are on the bill?

The Spanish painter, Antonio Lopez, is definitely in there. Also, the English painter, Michael Andrews, and we should have one of the American realist painters, maybe a few Wyeths or Hoppers or Winslow Homer or Wayne Thiebaud. Actually, the list would change every day!

Your best celebrity encounter:

One night, in a nightclub in London, my daughter, Rebecca, and I fell in with Vinny Jones and his uncles on the tear. What a night! I also met Paul Simon, at the reception following an event in the National Concert Hall marking a year since the passing of Seamus Heaney. He was really interesting and knew a lot about art.

Any interesting ancestors? My great, great grandfather was Canon William Greenwell (1820 -1918), auxillary Bishop of Durham. He invented the Greenwell’s Glory fishing fly, which is still a popular fly today!

Favourite work tool: I have a lovely, Red Sable no.18 watercolour brush, which cost quite a lot of money back in the early 1980s. It is still in use and is in very good condition.

Unsung hero — individual or group that don’t get the praise they deserve:

The Jack and Jill Foundation.

You are king for a day — what’s your first decree? Ban the ‘Angelus’ from RTÉ. All that bong, bong bonging is really annoying. Anyway, it feels like a throwback to dark old Ireland, when the Church all but ran the country and behaved so badly.

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