I visited Malta for a holiday, and while there I did six paintings of the island nation. The Malta Independent on Sunday picked up my paintings on Twitter, and asked for an interview. I was more than happy you can see the copy below.
People and architecture
Even though much of LIAM O’FARRELL’s work is architectural, the core influences are all about the people. He cannot paint a building or street scene without a population to occupy it and to perform in its space. The artist was recently on holiday in Malta and Andre Camilleri managed to get in touch with him.
Liam O’Farrell is a Somerset- based artist and illustrator working mostly in watercolours and oils. His work is often exhibited in prominent venues, including the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London, and as far as the far East. His work celebrates the ordinary and the great thing about the ordinary is that there is so much of it.
In Liam’s work he cherishes the uniqueness of Britain’s dilapidated seaside towns, stumbling light industries and the ‘wearing slippers to the off license’ easy going part of culture. He has recently documented his travel writing and illustration to Malta on his website liamofarrell.localdev. In Liam’s pictures, people and architecture are inextricable and, in spite of their apparent realism, these are images constructed from onsite drawing and painting and also a bit of memory on top – a synthesis of Liam’s perception of a place and its inhabitants, rather than any literal representation.
Where are you originally from?
My dad was in the Royal Navy in the sixties and seventies and we lived in married quarters in Portsmouth on the south coast of England. I lived in Portsmouth until I was 22 when I moved to London for 23 years. I now live in Somerset!
What brought you to Malta?
When I was young, the navy had a huge presence in Malta. Other neighbours were stationed there too. So my dad and all our neighbours knew Malta very well, and it was often spoke about as an impressive place to visit.
Added to that, a fair number of Maltese came to live in the city and came to my Catholic school. Looking back, I think about a third of the pupils were of Maltese decent. The names, Debono, Muscat, and Buttigieg were as common in my childhood as Smith or Jones. This was my life right up until I was 18 so when the opportunity came up to go to Malta recently, I was very keen.
In fact on arrival in Malta my old school friend Mark Debono tracked me down not an hour after I arrived. We spent a couple of days with he, and his family and talked about old times.
Your favourite medium?
I enjoy using watercolour for its quick, spontaneous results and oils for deeper and richer detail it can provide.
Why do you like to paint people and places?
I enjoy painting the passing world, the ordinary things in life. I feel it is the simple things that bring genuine happiness, the things we can so easily miss, and celebrate them.
Any latest commissions?
With the power of the internet it can often be the case that I will be working on an illustration job in Shanghai and another in New York at the same time. Very exciting though can play havoc with the sleep pattern! One is getting to work as the other is in bed asleep. I also do personal commissions for clients, and have exhibited at The Royal Academy and The Mall Galleries in London with The New English Art Club, and The Royal Society of British Artists.
You write a travel/illustration blog. Why?
I have always liked the idea of painting around the world. Not just the big famous locations but the things that might not be noticed at first like the painting of Tiffanys in Marsascala. Tiffanys will almost never appear on a postcard of Malta though it is TOTALLY Malta in its own way.
I like to write about and explain, Why did I do it? Who I met? What did they say? I hope that way off in the future someone may come across it and it gives them that essential human element to history.
Any plans for the future?
As well as taking commissions I am working on doing more oil painting and noting the world as it is today, I really
enjoy developing an idea over a long period and pinning down exactly what I am trying to say.
I would also really like to do a travel journal with a really good writer and character. ‘Across America with Alan Bennett’ or at the other extreme, ‘Across Russia with Russell Brand’. Either one will do me just fine.