TWO local artists have an exhibition on at Newcastle Library this month which features their landscape paintings. Friends Jonathan David Heenan and Bertie Spiers have produced a variety of works, many of which feature local landscapes, including the Mourne Mountains and the Annalong valley. The art has been in the library gallery since 30 October and will be available to view during library opening hours through to Friday (10 November).
Newcastle resident Jonathan’s works in the exhibition are primarily paintings and pastels. “The Mournes would be the predominant theme,” he said. Jonathan got into doing art during his years boarding at Friends’ School in Lisburn. “You had access to the art rooms and you could see what other people were doing. That’s probably where I learned art,” he said. Although he has a Bachelor’s degree in Maths from Queen’s University, about six years ago, he decided to get back into art. He did a Foundation degree in Art at Belfast Met which he found “extremely beneficial” In addition to working at an afterschool club where he helps the children make artistic creations, he now teaches art classes in Newcastle and Killyleagh, sells his art at local artisan markets and recently travelled to Canada to do some art there. “I think when you go away your brain opens up and you are much more free,” he said. He can also be seen creating his art at local coffee shops. “My current artist studio is usually [Caffe] Nero. Sometimes people will see me there,” Jonathan said. The other artist in the exhibition is Bertie Spiers, a beef cattle farmer who lives just outside Maghera. This is the first time he has had his art exhibited in a show like this, although he has sold some paintings before to people who saw his art in his own house. His theme for the exhibition is mostly landscapes that he has done in watercolours. “I like the spontaneity of watercolours,” he said. “You sort of let the paint and water do the painting for you.”
Bertie said that he tries to create a sense of “atmosphere” in his paintings, and especially enjoys trying to capture sunsets in his art. He said he has enjoyed doing art from a young age, influenced by his mother, who was quite a good artist, and continued after he left school at Castlewellan High School. “I was always interested in art,” he said. As he was busy with farming and family commitments, he had not done much painting in the last 10 years, but got back into it in February of this year. He said painting is a wintertime hobby for him. “When the dark nights come in, I can do it. In the summertime, you see too much you should be doing [on the farm],” he said. He hopes to continue making art, both on his own and with his nine grandchildren, who he says are “exceptional” artists. “All the grandchildren seem to have a knack for it,” he said. For more information about the art exhibition, people can visit Jonathan’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/JonathanDavidPortraits.