Lorcan Vallely was born in Armagh in 1979. He is a member of a well-known family in the world of art and music. His father is the internationally acclaimed painter John B Vallely. He completed his foundation course in art and design at Belfast Art College in 2000 before going on to study Fine Art at Bath school of Art & Design, and later completing the Post Graduate Diploma Fine Art course at Chelsea College of Art, London in 2004.
Vallely then spent a year drawing and painting full time in Oxford as a member of the artist-run Magdalen Road Studios. He was a member of Belfast Print Workshop and spent a year working from his studio in The Hidden Lane in Glasgow before returning to Ireland where he currently resides.
Vallely has exhibited his work in London, Glasgow, Bath and Oxford, in Italy and throughout Ireland. His work has been shown in solo and group shows. Vallely has been artist in residence at a number of festivals including the Open House Festival in Belfast (2006, 2010), with Barry Kerr for Feile Oriel in Monaghan (2010) and the William Kennedy Piping Festival, Armagh (2010).
Vallely’s current practice reflects his interest in the imagery of the past, particularly 1960s and 70s Ireland. He researches archive material, for example microfilm records of local newspapers, for inspiration and creates new work in his unique style in charcoal and deciding where to add colour using oil.
“I started using charcoal while I was at Art College in Bath. At the time, I was interested in the work of an artist called William Kentridge who used charcoal to make animations about South African history. I never did try his charcoal animation technique, but I have been using that medium ever since.
It is possible that the style of the work has been shaped in some ways by how my methods of using charcoal have developed over the years. My techniques today are very different to ten years ago, despite the media being almost the same, although now I mostly use charcoal and charcoal powder, and have added more colours in oil in the last couple of years. And of course, the fact that the work is essentially realist is coming from me. I really like the hands-on approach to the medium of charcoal, the ability to build up layers of tone with real depth and find that working like this on canvas, as opposed to paper, leaves much more scope for this approach; it’s a much more resilient surface. This also allows for the addition of a splash of colour that can combine with the tonal charcoal with very effective results.”
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