Fergus Martin’s ray of light

Fergus Martin, artist, on a ray of light

GB Why did you choose the ray of light?

FM Because a ray of light comes through a skylight in my studio everyday there is sun.  I like it when that side of the room is empty and there’s nothing except the ray of light on the wall, and I also love when it lands on clutter. I like the fact that I can’t keep it. Every time I think I want to own an object no matter how beautiful, I realise I don’t want to own anything.

GB I love that. Isn’t it liberating? There is so much beauty in the world. Do you think people appreciate it less when they own it and take it for granted?

FM I have no idea.

GB Can you describe your studio and the building it’s in? That’s beautiful too.

FM My studio is the top floor of an 18th century house in Henrietta St on Dublin’s northside.  Two big rooms.  I love it.  At the back I see four or five church spires and planes constantly landing and taking off from Dublin Airport. In winter I light fires.   I collect twigs in the park behind – they have a wonderful smell when they burn.  It’s incredibly cold there in winter

All the houses on the street are extraordinary.  The one next door is like being in Venice – dark, gloomy Dublin palazzo hallway with parallel staircases, one public and one hidden. Very eerie.

At the front, I’m looking at the facades of other houses – all higgledy-piggledy 18th century variations.  Films are made on the street.  If you see Albert Nobbs, the snow is not fake.  It snowed for weeks and it was thrilling to see the actors and carriages and cameras in it.

I spend as much time looking out the window as I do working.

GB Is beauty relevant to your art?

FM Yes, there are of course other sensations.

GB What other sensations do you aim for?

FM Just that everything has to have a rightness.

GB Do you think there’s a lack of beauty in contemporary art?


GB Where do you look for beauty in the world?

FM Everywhere!

GB What makes something worthy of the word Beauty to you?

FM I will never forget how I felt when I saw an Agnes Martin painting for the first time.  I didn’t believe it was possible to be so moved by something – it was so there.  

If you asked me to explain that, I couldn’t.

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