Markey Robinson

Markey Robinson – Modern Impressionist

Markey Robinson was an outsider and his way of self expression was through paint. Painting all through his life, from a small boy, he learned to draw and make things from found objects. As he grew he studied more, seeking out info in the local library, discovering the European Masters. His mind started to focus on colour co-ordination, composition, mood and of course his own very unique style. This was the corner stone of his self expression. Art crept over Markey like a blanket.

Markey was born in Belfast in 1918, two years after the Rising. He had many manual jobs which included welding, merchant seaman, toy and stained glass making. Ireland was a poor country then and Markey had to make money wherever he could. Becoming a full time artist was not really a reality but a very deep passion.

As a seaman he travelled to France and Spain extensively and even as far as South America and North Africa. When in Paris he was blown away by the Parisians and the Artist’s Quarter in Monmartre. He was not alone in his thinking and I guess this is where he developed hi taste for red wine. Markey was a romer but always returned home. Home to where his heart lay most content.

He had a small studio in Lyle street Belfast where he painted with great discipline while being extremely prolific, the reason for this is in his style, in the essence of his work, it’s dramatic blocks of gable ends, roadways, sky, sea and land. A picture could be painted in twenty minutes. Markey has been known to paint an exhibition in a weekend. He was very well known in Belfast and attended Belfast College of Art for a time but couldn’t fit seem to fit in. By this time he had already developed his unmistakeable style. So wwhat was the point of going to school to be called an, ‘oddball’.

Back to his work, Markey painted with house paint. Old brushes on board or card. He was from a time of war and poverty. It was in his nature to paint this way and I believe it gives his work an honesty of who he really was and what Ireland was really like then. His pictures evoke a time of story telling, knitting and fishing. Markey painted from his mind, his imagination, he brought through the feeling of isolation, simple life within the homes of a bleak landscape. There were fires cooking bread and boiling potatos. The child in the corner wrapped in a blanket, a mothers love, a father silent looking at the fire after a hard days work, contemplating life. Hard times but simple times. Times we have forgotten or are too young to know. His pictures are reflections of himself, his mood. As Markey cotemplates a composition time stands still. The world falls away, the image appears

I believe Markey is a modern Paul Henry and should be treated with equal respect. I guess in time he will, after all his work is in the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and Madrid and perhaps if he wore green wellies he would be represented in his own country at IMMA.

Look beyond his simple brush strokes and absorbe yourself in the melancholy of your forefathers. His pictures are part of Irish history now. Markey passed away in 1999 not seeing a new millennium but the new millennium was not in his life time or his art. Praise to Markey, he was a wonderful painter and has done a phemonenal amount for Irish Art, on how people see it.