Royal Society showcase for Mill Road inspired art by the Cambridge Painter

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The Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) showcases the work of 40 emerging artists, including Niall MacCrann, a student at Anglia Ruskin University who lives in Cambridge.

Niall McCrann. Photo: Keith Hepell

Artists who are part of the RBA Rising Stars exhibition in London have also been shortlisted for the RBA Rome Fellowship 2022 – a month-long residency at Sala Uno, an arts center in the heart of Rome. The applicants were artists aged between 18 and 35 and from across the UK.

Much of Niall’s recent work has been inspired by Mill Road in Cambridge. “When I moved to Cambridge I gravitated a bit there. It was one of the liveliest places in 2020 and I think it has a really strong community.

Originally from Dublin, Niall lived in Manchester, London and the US, before moving to Cambridge in September 2020. “It was a lovely surprise,” he says of his selection for the Rising Stars exhibit. “I worked in some exhibitions in London. There was the ING Discerning Eye exhibit at the Mall Galleries, but it’s a much bigger exhibit.

“What was really good was to be selected and during the exhibition I was really impressed by the quality of the work. It was a great opportunity to meet other young emerging artists.

The submission process involved artists submitting five or six sample images of their work, from which one was chosen. Niall’s work that made the cut was called The incalculable.

The Untold by Niall MacCrann
The Untold by Niall MacCrann

“It’s a Mill Road-inspired piece,” he explains, “with repeated symbols of delivery drivers and reflections on cafe windows. At the opening event, it was really nice to mingle with some of the other artists and I got some great feedback.

“I think most of the comment thread was that people thought it was very identifiable with that moment. There’s been this pretty dramatic increase in contactless food delivery and that imagery really resonates with people because that’s what they see around them. It could be something you don’t notice until someone points it out to you.

Niall, who often likes to sit in some of the Mill Road cafes and paint, has only taken painting seriously in recent years. “I’ve done a few other things, but more recently I’ve worked as a physics researcher. That’s what I did in college originally.

It was living in the United States that encouraged Niall to pick up a brush, as he didn’t really know anyone there and spent a lot of time alone. “I really got back into painting in a way that I hadn’t done since school, basically,” he recalls, “and then when I came back and it was lockdown, it was like that five times. I had plenty of time and really immersed myself in my painting.

“Since then I’ve started doing a part-time MFA at Anglia Ruskin in Fine Art and it’s taking more and more space.”

Niall McCrann.  Photo: Keith Hepell
Niall McCrann. Photo: Keith Hepell

Niall’s work will be featured in some of Anglia Ruskin’s upcoming exhibitions – including the Sustainability Art Prize – and he hopes to feature some of his paintings at Cambridge Contemporary Art throughout the year. He also plans to apply for more competitions like RBA Rising Stars.

See Niall’s painting The incalculable – with the work of the 39 other selected artists – at the Royal OverSeas League in London. The exhibit runs until July 3 and opening hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To learn more about Niall, visit niallmaccrannpainting.com and instagram.com/nfmcrn/?hl=en.

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