FAST emerging as “one to watch” on the Belfast art scene, local artist Mickey Murray is wowing critics across the city as he prepares to launch his latest collection in one of the North’s most prestigious galleries.

Working out of his Dunmurry loft, the 35-year-old is currently displaying his latest paintings in Gormley’s gallery on the Lisburn Road. Mickey told the Andersonstown News that his not having formally studied art has never held him back from following his passion.

“I’ve been painting all my life, I don’t have any formal qualifications in art and I never pursued it in school, it wasn’t really encouraged when I was a student,” he recalls. “I just used to paint in my spare time and when I left school I was able to take it up doing different courses and then got work as a sign writer for places like hotels, bars and nightclubs.

“I was working designing different motifs and logos for nightclubs down South, but when the credit crunch came along down there it put paid to that.

“I’m now teaching a few days a week over on the Ravenhill Road, it’s delivering 3D digital animation to kids who have left school and to be honest it’s going really well,” he said.

“I’m hoping that it will be rolled out as a full-time teaching course but I’m still working away with the canvas at home and have just finished a painting which is going for auction in the next couple of weeks.”

Mickey says that he was inspired to paint by looking at different scenes from comic books.

“Most of my work is iconic portraits and fantasy landscapes. I used to look at comic book scenes and think they would make a great painting. Some people say that there is a distinguishing line between an illustrator and an artist but they are the same to me. I just enjoy painting – it’s that simple.”

n For more information on Mickey’ s work visit www.facebook. com/michael.sketchpad