Jeffrey Morgan is the artist featured this month in concurrent exhibitions at the Ava Gallery, Clandeboye, and Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University, Belfast.
Morgan was born in Wales in 1942, studied at Cardiff School of Art and Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. He became a lecturer at Hornsey, Colchester, Berkshire and Winchester Schools of Art during the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. He married an Ulster-born writer and journalist, has exhibited widely and now lives and works in Co Antrim.
The paintings in both galleries span Morgan’s long and distinguished career, with the collection in the Naughton featuring a unique series of portraits of well-known Irish poets, including Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley. Perhaps surprisingly, there is also an early rendering of actress turned politician Glenda Jackson. The Ava Gallery, on the other hand, is showing what it describes as ‘a remarkable and intense series of over 30 paintings and drawings’, some of which feature Morgan’s wife, Patricia Craig, who has been the subject of a number of Morgan’s works over the years.
Morgan’s approach is uniquely realistic, by which I mean that he depicts his everyday subjects with a very personal type of realism. They are wonderfully ‘real’, yet, at the same time, wonderfully painterly. His use of his medium is masterly as he brings each scene, person and object to life. But, thankfully, they are not like photographs — this particular descriptive, is, I always think, more of an insult than a compliment. Instead he has added to them and given them more than a photograph, which is what the representational artist is free to do.
These two exhibitions show off numerous aspects of Morgan’s distinctive talent and both will run until the end of the month.
Other exhibitions recently opened include Stephen Forbes at the Tom Caldwell Gallery. And there is Four Artists — Samantha Ellis Fox, Kevin McAleenan, Cormac O’Leary and Gerard McGourty — in the McKenna Gallery, Omagh. At the Waterfront Hall, Belfast, Above and Beyond is a collection of paintings by Fred McCullough, with what is described as “a bold, foreboding, contemporary flavour”.