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Kennys since 1940

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Marjoram On His Career

"Born in the Liberties area of Dublin in 1936, I was first introduced to art at the age of seven, when a group of business people in our area opened a boys club. This club was manned by a couple of students from Trinity College, a couple of tradesmen and a student from the National College of Art. From my first art lesson I was hooked. We had pencils, charcoal for sketching and watercolours for painting.

During the latter part of the war years and post war there was very little chance of seeing landscapes, so I found my inspiration in Combridge's Art Gallery. There were two windows in Grafton Street and three in Duke Street full of paintings by Ireland's lending artists and a huge gallery upstairs. I would study the paintings for hours, then go home and paint them from memory. This continued into my early teens.

I started work at the age of thirteen. This enabled me to graduate to oils. By the time I was sixteen I had a huge portfolio of paintings. I approached the Natural College of Art, and was accepted as an evening student, where I had the good fortune to have Maurice McGonnigal as my teacher. After two weeks in the College I was promoted to the life classes. I spent four years at the college furthering my hobby. At that time it was impossible to look to art as a career.

In my twenties and early thirties with a wife and four children to support, I started to use my paintings to supplement my income. I started to sell my work door to door around the more affluent areas of Dublin. In 1968 I approached Combridge's in Grafton Street, with a set of ten paintings. They bought them from me, and invited me to bring more. I can safely say I have seldom been off the wall in Combridges to this day.

My first big break came in the mid 1970's when the late PV Doyle saw my work in the gallery and hung my paintings in his hotels and as a Chairman of Bord Fáilte used them as presentations. In the early 80's my second break came. That enabled me to turn full professional, the Arnott Gallery was looking for Irish artists who could supply them on a regular basis. They sold paintings from many countries, to galleries all over the US. These were not sale or return, they bought the paintings and paid within two weeks of delivery. I was then approached by an Irish artist who had a gallery in Perkins Cove in Maine to supply him with paintings. I was with both of these outlets for about 10 years.

In about 1982 I was approached by Des Kenny. He wanted to take my work to Galway. I lived in a small terraced house then and he used to collect the paintings in a large fancy car.

In 1984 I was invited by Pat Hopper Onner of the James Gallery in Dalkey, to have my first one man show. This has a huge success, it was said at the time. I was the first artist born in the Liberties of Dublin to have a one man show in Dublin. Up to the mid 90's I had four more one man shows in the James Gallery, I also had a one man show in Kennys in the 90's.

In 1985 I was asked by Daler Rowney to became their demonstrator for Ireland. This meant going to trade shows or giving in store demo's about three times a year. I enjoyed giving the painting demonstrations so much I started to give them to raise funds for charity."

Jerry Marjoram