Jerwood Foundation

Mick Rooney RA (b.1944)

Watching Fireworks (Spain), c.2005

  • Details

    Courtesy of The Artist

  • Medium

    oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    74 x 52 ¾ in. (188 x 134 cm.)

  • Provenance

    Purchased from the 2006 exhibition.

  • Exhibited

    London, Royal Academy, Summer Exhibition, June - August 2006, no. 804.
    London, Royal College of Physicians (loaned 2007-2011).

  • Literature

    Collection Catalogue, Jerwood Collection, London 2012 p.34. Illustrated p.25

Mick Rooney's travels to the edges of Europe and beyond are the inspiration for many of his works. His paintings create a magical reflection of the places he has experienced that weaves reality with the fantastical, populated both with mythical and mortal creatures including mermaids and angels, often accompanied by birds, fish and domestic creatures.

Professor Norbert Lynton comments that 'His engagement is to humanity at large; his allegiance is to art at large. His delight is in what paint can do and how it can deliver, again and again in so many different ways, what the imagination will conceive.'

He says of this work: ‘I painted it in my studio in Spain. The studio is near a concentration of genuine gypsies who still sit out on a hot evening wearing busy textiles. Fireworks for weddings, feasts or just because things go bang in the night! Processions, Moors and Christians, Easter, Christmas. But - he whispered – this is old Spain or should I say the patrimonial undercurrent of a Spain difficult to see. The girl is lifted up by her mother – this gesture an allusion, perhaps to the Goyaesque along with the chiaroscuro of the work’ (Mick Rooney, private correspondence, 2006).

There is currently a Focus exhibition on Mick Rooney at the Royal Academy of Arts, further details here


Born in Epsom, Surrey, Rooney studied at Sutton School of Art (1959-62) before attending Wimbledon School of Art (1962-64) and then the Royal College of Art, London (1964-67). A scholarship enabled him to study at the British School of Rome (1967-68). On his return to England he took up a part-time teaching post and he continued teaching at various art colleges until 1982. From 1965 solo exhibitions were held at the Fulham Gallery, London; Galerie Petit, Amsterdam; and Seasons Gallery, The Hague and since 1984 a number of shows have been held at the Mercury Gallery, London. Rooney also shows regularly in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition and was elected RA in 1991. Rooney has travelled extensively in Europe and also visited Morocco and Mexico, where he spent time in indigenous villages. He has won numerous awards including John Player Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery (1985); Korn/Ferry International Premier Award (Royal Academy, 1989); and First Prize at Chichester Arts Festival (1995 and 1996). Rooney was Artist in Residence for the Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne (1983). He lived in Hastings for a number of years and remains closely connected with the town.