Aidan’s work to go on display at Down Arts Centre

Aidan’s work to go on display at Down Arts Centre

9 January 2019

A LOUGHINISLAND artist famed for his colourful and lifelike portrayal of animals  is holding his first exhibition at Down Arts Centre. 

Thirty year-old Aidan Sloan, whose work also includes some locally renowned politicians, will have 20 pieces on display in the exhibition entitled, ‘This Wee Place Here’.

The talented artist can certainly stretch his imagination to determine what kind of surface to paint on. He has used everything from boards, wooden planks, old suitcases, football tops and even an old Belfast sink for his masterpieces.

Aidan, who is often seen at home in his studio with a paintbrush in hand and his six week-old baby daughter Síne lying across his shoulder, says he has loved drawing all his life. 

“It wasn’t until 2016 that I took a career break from my job as a civil servant to look after my young family and try to turn my passion for art into a career,” he remarked. 

“So far it is going from strength to strength. I fit painting and researching my work in between school runs and the daily routine of having four children.

“My wife, Déarbhla, and our four children are my inspiration, although I can draw creativity from the subject I am painting too. Sometimes other artists and genres inspire me and perhaps inspiration comes from the meaning behind the painting.

“To be totally honest I just go with what feels right to me at the time. I have no training in art or qualifications in art history, but rather I have developed my talent from experimenting with paints, canvases and subjects over the years. 

“I really admire the work of Christian Hook and Angela Bell. They both have created their own wonderful styles that are unique to them and I would say I have created something of my own style too.”

The painter, who already has one piece of work hanging in the Ulster Museum as part of the annual Royal Ulster Academy of Arts exhibition, described his delight in seeing his family’s artistic gene falling onto the next generation.

“My three eldest children love art too and they have grown up watching me paint and produce art. 

“My youngest child, Síne, is only six weeks old but I am sure it won’t be long until she has a paintbrush in her hand. My eldest son, Ethan, won the Art Shield when he left primary school, and my daughter, Ríoghnach, who has epilepsy and autism, uses art as a therapeutic way to relax.

“Having them watch me paint is also an inspiration and I feel it demonstrates to them that you should follow your passion and dreams, no matter what.”

Aidan has some of his own favourites in display at the exhibition, including ‘Blending In, which is an acrylic painting of a hare on an old loft door, and a portrait of the late David Ervine, former PUP leader, which is acrylic paint and pencil on the inside of an old fishing wader.

Heavily influenced by farming and all things agricultural, it comes as a surprise to learn the Co Down artist didn’t grow up on a farm.

“I often help my brother-in-law out on his farm and quite a few of his cows have become the subject of many of my paintings,” he said.

“There was something about the characters of animals that I really felt I could utilise in my paintings. Then I began to produce portraits of people with pencil, and my wife encouraged me to try painting them a few years ago.

“I am Loughinisland, through and through. This has actually inspired one of the pieces of artwork that will be on display. The exhibition gives an insight into my depiction of growing up in Northern Ireland post-troubles.

“It contains many animals from Northern Ireland, but I have also reflected on some things such as landscapes, political figures and events that had some sort of impact on me when I was growing up.

“When I was in primary school I loved art and I kept a booklet from P7 where I said that I wanted to grow up to be an artist. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s, and with a lot of encouragement from my wife, that I realised I could make a career out of something I had always done as a hobby.”

• Aidan’s work can be admired throughout the month of January up to February 2 at Down Arts Centre and admission is free.