Belfast artist inspired by visit to Brooklyn

Brian John Spencers exhibition opens on February 23 at Canvas Galleries on Stranmillis Road
Brian John Spencers exhibition opens on February 23 at Canvas Galleries on Stranmillis Road

Belfast artist Brian John Spencer, fresh from two months in America, is to showcase his love for buildings from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

The 29-year-old, who has made his name as a political writer and cartoonist, will have his work on display at his first solo exhibition later this month themed ‘Brklyn – Blfst’

Brian John Spencer was inspired by his recent stay in Brooklyn

Brian John Spencer was inspired by his recent stay in Brooklyn

The former RBAI student who studied law at Queen’s explained how the concept came about. He said: “I recently spent two months in the US. The initial 10 days was with a Stormont delegation of MLAs and leaders in Washington, Ohio and Arkansas. When the group left I started my own adventure, taking a Greyhound to New York with nothing more than my clothes, my wits and my big bag of paper and pens, determined to take on the Big Apple.”

He commented: “The city was simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. Yes, the streets can inspire you, but they can also expire you.

“The first two weeks were very scary, but I held my nerve and settled into a rhythm that allowed me to establish myself in the local neighbourhoods of Park Slope and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. #

“For me, these were my Stranmillis and the Lisburn Road of New York. Suddenly I had people queuing to get drawn at the farmer’s market, and suddenly people were commissioning me to draw their family and their homes. The response was overwhelming.

A Brian John Spencer sketch of a familiar Belfast dwelling

A Brian John Spencer sketch of a familiar Belfast dwelling

“It may have only been a few weeks, but I felt like I made it – I cracked the Big Apple.”

Back in Belfast the artist has teamed up with Canvas Galleries on the Stranmillis Road to produce his first solo exhibition, which opens on February 23.

He said: “I’ve drawn the buildings and places of Belfast and Brooklyn that inspire me and others. Mixed in with the art is the text which describes my time in and experiences of my two favourite cities – Belfast and Brooklyn.

“I want to tell the story of ambition, adventure, and achievement. The story of Brooklyn, a city where people go to make it, and how the people of Belfast can learn from that.”