There will be strokes of a different kind on show at the Tayto Northern Ireland Open in Partnership with Ulster Bank, as renowned portrait artist Mark Robinson will be on hand with his oils and easel.
Robinson's flair for art and music has seen the Belfast native tour with the likes of Black Sabbath, Praying Mantis and Prince. These days his focus is back on the canvas as he paints the world’s best golfers and captures scenes from some of the biggest tournaments in the game.
He will return to Galgorm Castle Golf Club for this year's edition of the tournament, the fourth time it has been held at the stunning Ballymena venue, from July 28-31.
“I studied fine art and theatre and always painted in my spare time, even when I was a professional musician. I ended up in the Middle East with a theatre company and started doing some portraits for the Royal Family and other dignitaries,” said Robinson of his time before delving into the world of golf.
“In 2008 I sort of got fed up and painted a portrait of Henrik Stenson in Dubai. Everyone saw it and went wow, asking me why haven’t I been doing this type of thing before. Since then I have pretty much been concentrating on swing portraits of golfers.”
Robinson was quickly noticed for his work and the European Tour approached him to become their ‘Artist in Residence’. He said: “It began with a commission to sit by the 18th at the DP World Championship in Dubai and paint the final scene in much the same way former international Jack Russell captures cricket’s Test matches. Naturally, I jumped at the chance,” said Robinson, who is commissioned by the European Tour and specific tournaments through the season.
“I’ve worked quite a few varied events; Abu Dhabi, Gary Player’s tournament in South Africa, the National Bank of Oman event, Wentworth and some of the European Challenge Tour Finals.”
Robinson’s link to Galgorm emerged after a conversation with NI Open Event Director Gary Henry in Dubai in 2013, who enquired about becoming the Artist in Residence for the province’s annual Challenge Tour event.
“Naturally, I jumped at the chance, especially since I was born in Belfast. It will be like a homecoming for me,” said Robinson, who held an exhibition at Stormont in 2011.
“My exhibition will run at the newly refurbished Jacobean castle from Thursday to Sunday (10-4pm daily) and I’ll be set up in the tented village for the week. I’ll spend time looking around, getting a feel for the place and picking up all my reference material before deciding on the final scene to paint,” explained the 56-year-old who is currently based in England.
As part of the commission Robinson will present Galgorm with the final painting once completed several weeks after the event plus give portraits of four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy and NI Open Tournament Ambassador Michael Hoey to the host venue.
“Luckily I have built up a following and my work is collectable. I have a few collectors in Northern Ireland who have bought various things over the years and many of the tour players have portraits hanging on their walls after receiving them as gifts from coaches or family members.”
Robinson’s presence and unique exhibition will be a welcome addition to this year’s Tayto NI Open. Visitors can catch up with Robinson during tournament week in this rare opportunity to see and purchase his work or perhaps arrange a personal commission.
Tickets for the Tayto NI Open in Partnership with Ulster Bank, are free and can be secured by registering online here.