Bernie McAdam

Bernie McAdam
1 The Red Mile
Oil on canvas
40 x 30 cm
Purchased from the artist’s studio, 2008.


Bernie lives and works in her native Ardee, Co. Louth. She studied a number of courses at the National College of Art and Design and spent many years living and exhibiting in Dublin. She also lived in London for a number of years. The changing environment and its challenges permeate her work and she tries to capture the energy that emanates from such flux.

Read an Interview with this artist here:

How did you begin your artistic career?

My career as an artist started at a really young age, as soon as I took up implements that could render an image: chalk, pencils, stones. It was a constant in my life at all stages. I started formal art education during my teens with tuition from the wonderful Ardee artist, Padraig Lynch. I studied all aspects of fine art at various levels at The National College of Art and Design, working under the tutelage of many artists. There was no specific starting time, just a continuous engagement. I worked as a librarian in Dublin City Council but retained my engagement with my art practice during this time. I now work full time as a professional artist.

What factors were important in helping you decide to make that your profession?

The factors that were important were manifold. Knowing I had ability was the primary factor coupled with a constant and relentless inner drive to create. Another important factor was the motivation and support of a number of people who encouraged me to pursue art as a career including family and a number of colleagues in Dublin City Council and people in Louth County Council who believed in me. Strangely enough, the loss of very dearly loved family members was also a factor in that it threw me headlong into taking stock of how short life can be and how important it is to engage fully with what you know you were put on the planet to do.

What kinds of challenges have you faced in your career?

It’s difficult to assess the challenges but I suppose lack of confidence, on-going uncertainty and not a little fear about putting your heart and soul into the public domain but that’s probably part and parcel of the creative process, isn’t it? Keeping up with technology isn’t always easy either: my website was hacked recently!

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of making art as a profession?

My advice to anyone thinking of art as a profession would be to live a lot first , engage in formal art education certainly but don’t necessarily get bogged down into the professional ethos at a very young age but rather, engage in a wide arena of experiences, even do other work. Don’t be under any illusion that it’s a rosy romantic life, it’s very hard work. Be patient and be prepared to listen, look and learn from other practitioners and be curious too.

Can you tell us a little about your work in the Louth County Collection?

The Red Mile is an image of a cow surrounded by fields and trailing a red ditch. I created this in 2008, a number of years after I relocated to County Louth after living in Dublin for years. I had lived on a small holding as a child and to return to this rural environment where cattle were grazing right behind my garden wall was an amazing yet poignant experience. They live their lives, surrounded by beautiful fields and greenery, totally oblivious to their fate. The Red Mile is a nod to the film The Green Mile where the savagery of man looms large and the hero is cruelly killed in the end.

I still like the piece yet I somehow feel a little challenged and possibly guilty when I look at it now. Should I be a vegetarian!?

How is your practice developing?

I have been fortunate to receive a number of public commissions, including a public piece in bronze commemorating the Famine which was unveiled by An Taoiseach in Drogheda in May 2012 and a large-scale painting depicting the political and commercial history of Newry which is based on The Book of Newry by local historian, Michael McKeown. I have also been working with Second level students at Bush Secondary School and have been honing my drawing skills by studying classical drawing in Florence.

Find out more about this artist here:

Some of Works