Day for Night – A Season in Douglas

Paintings by Martin Hearne

A new art exhibition opens at the Manx Museum on Saturday 22 January. ‘Day For Night – A Season in Douglas’ explores the visual transformation of Douglas into a postcard perfect holiday destination from the heady days of tourism during the 50s, 60s and 70s. 

Using the vivid, vibrant colours of the holiday season, Martin Hearne’s collection of work will transport you back to brightly coloured beach balls and evenings spent under the bright lights of Douglas promenade.

Martin Hearne attended the Douglas School of Art from 1966 – 1968, before going on to study painting at St. Martins School of Art in London. After many years teaching art at various schools and colleges he became head of Ceramics at Bradford School of Art a post he held until retiring in 2015. 

He has recently returned to his love of painting.  His work is  inspired by Edward Hopper, an American realist painter, especially his sense of light, as well as John Sloane and the Ashcan school of art.

Martin explains more about the Day for Night project: “I started the series of works in this exhibition with a collection of colourised Douglas at Night postcards that I had accumulated over the years. The coloured additions often clumsily applied to black and white photos had an abstract charm and vividness that echoed the vibrant colours of the season. 

In the summer Douglas became this other place, brighter, vibrant, the colours had shifted, there was a plastic shine on things. The sounds were different, voices had changed and newspapers wrote about the accents that could be heard on the streets in the coming weeks. These are the thoughts that circled round as I painted my pictures. I see them as an exploration and celebration of the now all but vanished mass tourism of the Island that I remembered from the 50s to the 70s.

 The postcard with its optimism and glamour has been a source for many of these paintings along with personal photographs from the 60s and 70s and some recent drawings I made of the still visible holiday infrastructure.    Most paintings show a particular time of day where the time is narrowed down to a moment and the shadows are frozen. Often my focus has been on a single moment like the holiday snap or with a particular quality of light sometimes both. I’ve tried to recover the nostalgia of childhood and adolescence not in a specific way but in a way that tries to avoid sentimentality. 

 These paintings are an attempt at a portrait of a disappeared Island, a summertime of working class holidaymakers who transformed the Island each year.”

 The paintings have been transported to the Island with the kind support of Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.  Brian Thomson, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Managing Director, said: 

 “Day for Night – A Season In Douglas will provide visitors with an intriguing look at the Island’s capital at its tourism peak, no doubt stirring fond memories for many. We are pleased to offer our support to Manx National Heritage in transporting Martin’s collection to and from the Island and we hope as many people as possible take the opportunity to enjoy the exciting exhibition.” 

Katie King, Curator for Art & Social History at Manx National Heritage added: “We are delighted to welcome Martin Hearne back to the Isle of Man to showcase his evocative paintings of Douglas during the holiday season and extend our thanks to Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for their support of the exhibition. 

This will be his first major show on the Island since exhibiting his ceramics at the Manx Museum in 2005.  We know his artwork will strike a chord with visitors to the Manx Museum, especially during the cold winter months. His depictions of Douglas dressed in all its holiday finery and the simple pleasures of going ‘promenading’ on a warm summer’s evening will certainly bring back some happy memories.” 

Past exhibitions of both ceramics and paintings by Martin have included group shows in London and at the Leeds Design Innovation Centre; and solo exhibitions at the South Square arts centre, Bradford, The Bingley Gallery, and at the Manx Museum. 

 The exhibition starts on Saturday at the Manx Museum, open from 9.30am to 4.30pm. There will be a special opportunity to meet Martin Hearne in the exhibition gallery from 2pm – 6pm.  All the artworks in the exhibition are available for purchase.

 The Manx Museum is open daily 9.30am – 4.30pm. Admission is free, with donations welcome to Manx National Heritage, Isle of Man registered charity no. 603.

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