Connor Maguire, Drawings & Woodcuts

Award-winning Belfast-based artist on the ethos behind his new exhibition at the Down Arts Centre until May 30. 'I want to show the method behind each composition'

This exhibition is pretty much as personal as it gets for me. It's not one of those shows where you display works that people can view and relate to instantly by finding a universal meaning in each. That might be the case in regards to my woodcuts, visual representations of familiar landscapes or ideas, but not with the portraits.

For this exhibition, I asked friends and family to pose for me, mainly because they were the handiest models, which worked out well – they all secretly wanted a portrait.

The main focus and intention of these portraits is not to convey the identity of the person, nor the stories behind them – how I know each sitter, where they come from et cetera – rather I wanted to show the practical method behind each composition, and how suggestive mark making using a stick of charcoal or graphite pencil on paper can produce powerful likenesses.

For those looking at the works in the exhibition, feel free to completely ignore the individual in the drawing and consider, instead, the tools of creation. Two basic instruments - pencil and paper, in this case Ingres Paper 25CM X 35CM – which, if used correctly, can produce works much more powerful than any painting.

As well as drawings, woodcuts are also featured in the exhibition. The woodcuts were originally carved in birch, with each image carved in reverse and placed on an etching press, where they are then inked up and put through the press using a fine art printmaking paper. Depending on the quality of the finished image, I then produce a series of prints signed with an edition number.

All works in this exhibition are for sale and commissions are welcome. Below are a selection of some of my favourites.

Alex: This piece is a drawing of my nephew. It is looser than some of the others, and was one of the first created for the exhibition.

'Alex' by Connor Maguire

Saul: This woodcut is a triptych of Saul Church outside Downpatrick.

Saul 3, by Connor Maguire

Fiona: This is a drawing of my fiancée. There is a haunting look in her eyes, but I like the angle.

'Fiona', by Connor Maguire

Jason 2: This is a side study of my son.

'Jason', by Connor Maguire

The Early Rush Hour: Woodcut of an urban scene featuring lots of workmen on bikes.

'The Early Rush Hour', by Connor Maguire

Liam: This is a drawing of my friend, a man full of character.

'Liam', by Connor Maguire