NORTH Belfast artist Eimear Maguire is celebrating her collaboration with Bushmills Irish Whiskey – and dedicated her success to her father.
Eimear was approached by Bushmills this year after the company saw some her stunning artwork which depicts both native Irish plant life and wildlife in intricate detail, as well as her collaborations with outlets such as Anthropologie, Avoca and the National Trust.
Eimear said her artwork is inspired by the work of her father, artist Eamon Maguire, who is a well-known maker of bodhrans, bog oak sculptures, as well as his paintings. Eimear said one of the main inspirations in her work were the long outdoor trips she went on with her father as a child.
“My dad is turning 80 in a few months and we often go for walks up on the hills. He loves to go on walks up over Divis and on a Friday afternoon we’ll go up there for a walk to see the views.
“My dad was a huge influence on me because he took us outdoors so much when we were little. I live near Cave Hill – I was up on the mountain this morning and most mornings I’ll be out walking and getting inspiration from what I see when I’m out and about.
Speaking about her recent collaboration with Bushmills Eimear said the whiskey brand allowed her a lot of creative freedom in her design and she ultimately settled on a particular strain of Irish barley which they use in all their distilling.
“Bushmills contacted me and asked me to paint something for them. I was really interested in how they make the whiskey and their barley. They produce the whiskey using one single strain of Irish barley. They allowed me a lot of creative freedom and they had seen my artwork before. They said they wanted me to paint something and I asked them could I get up and find out more about how it’s made," she said.
“I went to the distillery and did the tour and where everything was stored. The tour was amazing and I learned so much about their process. During the tour what took me in was the smells and the warmth. It’s almost like a magical process – like a lab with bubbles going through the glass and the copper stills. It smelled of honey, chocolate and all those warm comforting things. The grain really interested me and how they use only one strain of Irish barley and the water from the River Bush which flows past the distillery.
“I decided on the barley because it fitted with my style and also their ethos and they allowed so much creative freedom for me to paint. A photographer I always work with, Elaine Hill, came and took some pictures of me at Bushmills in their warehouse where they house all their whiskey. Elaine’s photos really helped to tell the story through the photographs and to set the scene.”
Eimear added: “Bushmills are the only Irish distillery to still use malted barley instead of corn or other grains in their whiskey, so I wanted to capture this unique quality, historic process and the important connection between Bushmills whiskey and this Irish grown, essential ingredient. The warm, earthy, golden tones in this print celebrate warmth, tradition and passion I felt in the distillery and the comfort a wee glass of whiskey can bring especially at this time of the year. Barley was specially shipped from Co Cork to my studio in Belfast and now sits beside my prints in the Bushmills Distillery gift shop.”
Prints are also available online here.