Ardglass Artist Orlagh Milligan Paints Things Fishy

Ardglass artist Orlagh Milligan is busy with commissions

Ardglass artist Orlagh Milligan is busy with commissions

Orlagh Milligan (27) from Ardglass is looking forward to a life in art.

As a former pupil of St Mary’s High School and the Down High School in Downpatrick, Orlagh had at an early stage in her life developed a strong interest in art.

“I didn’t choose art, it chose me,” she said. “I was always strong in art and it was inevitable I’d be settling into a life in this area somewhere.

“After I did my A-Levels in Art, Geography and English, I went to Ulster University and studied Contemporary Applied Art specialising in jewelry and silversmithing.

Artist Orlagh Milligan from Arglass. (Photos by Jim Masson/Down News.)

“This involved mostly 3-D work. I hardly touched a paint brush during those three years. Then I progressed to doing a Masters in Art Psychotherapy which I really enjoyed.

“This course lasted two years and my clinical experience lies within suicide prevention and psychiatric care. I graduated this year with my Masters.  

“It was at this stage that I realised the importance of art and how it can help people who have experienced personal trauma.

“This is an area I would love to work in professionally eventually. But I am enjoying my art just now. I’ve been surprisingly quite busy since I started.

“At the moment I am painting commissions. I paint in acrylics as the colours are strong, and the paint is easy to work with and dries quickly. The images I am concentrating on just now are of fish, mainly herring and anchovies.

A fish dish by Orlagh Miligan.

“It is no coincidence I am focussing of things ‘fishy’. My father has been involved in the fishing industry for 45 years and is considering taking a back seat and retiring. His wider family too are still very much involved in the fish processing industry.

“Recently he has retired as the longest running vendor from the Ballymena market where he ran a fish stall on Saturdays. He still attends Ballynahinch, Cookstown and Lisburn markets.

Orlagh has also spent two years working out in Australia on a two year holiday visa. She just arrived back before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“When I returned from Australia, I created paintings of fish for family and friends as presents for birthdays etc.. My dad encouraged me to pursue this and try to sell some work, I think that motivated me quite a lot and gave me the belief in myself as an artist.”

“I’m painting in quite a narrow niche. My specialism in fish will broaden out to other areas but I’m trying to do my best in this at the minute and produce a range of fish prints which are proving to be quite popular.

Tinned: Orlagh Milligan from Ardglass shows off her artwork.

“I could work on an average painting for five hours a day for five days. It can be quite an intense experience.

“I have paintings displaying in the Fired Restaurant in Killough, Margaret’s Cottage B&B in Ardglass and The Cuan Restaurant in Strangford bought one when they completed their refurbishment recently.

“One thing which I am quite concerned about is the amount of packaging I receive when I order something for my art that is not environmentally friendly.

“I use biodegradable bubble wrap and reuse all of the cardboard from deliveries, but more needs to be done in the art world to make this whole area more environmentally sustainable.”

Orlagh leads an active life with interests ranging from playing at Downpatrick Tennis Club, ocean swimming, paddle-boarding, and keeping fit at the Lesley Forward Fitness Class at Ardglass Community Centre.

And she added: “If I’m not painting fish, I’m eating it. I just love seafood. I was raised with all sorts of delicious foods from the sea. It’s really good for you. I grew up with it all my life from living in Ardglass fishing harbour to my father working in the fish trade. So painting fish is fairly easy for me.”



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Copyright – Jim Masson / Down News.