Life after university may have proven difficult for some however, Salford-based artist Mary Gilsenan shows how she draws upon their experience of identifying as queer and coming from a working class-background to inspire their range of artistic mediums.

The passion for being creative has been something that has always been prominent throughout their life, as Mary said: “I’ve always had a passion for creating things and I love bringing people joy with my work. Both of my parents and my grandparents did art for a while too, my mum sells her art now, so I grew up in quite an artistically free family”.

In terms of inspiration, Mary states when doing a barista course at Islington Mill, she was: “made aware of how big an artistic scene there is here and found a lot of Salford artists on Islington Mill’s Instagram page“. She explains that: “Their page itself is inspirational because I know there’s a place I can go when things open back up to explore my art further, and hopefully one day get a unit there!”.

(Use of this image was allowed by the copyright holder, Mary Gilsenan).
A hand sketched and painted bee, using watercolour and gold ink. Permission for use from Mary Gilsenan.


“It’s one thing that can be completely on my own terms, I can create and sell what I want, when I want, so that sense of freedom is nice”.



When studying Drama and Creative Writing at Salford University, Mary achieved a First Class Honours and states that studying “pushed me to think more deeply and originally” and that “part of the reason why I wanted to go to Salford was so I could be near L.S Lowry’s main body of work”.

Mary’s most recent piece of writing is an adapted confessional piece called ‘You Only Love Me in Hotel Rooms’ which explores the experience of love and the sense of loss when that has gone. “It’s quite interesting in that it feels somewhat like a love letter, as I always address the reader as ‘you’. I wanted to create something really personal, it was a hard thing to write but it’s something I’m immensely proud of”.

(Use of this image was allowed by the copyright holder, Mary Gilsenan).
Hand painted and sketched using acrylic and gold ink. Permission for use from Mary Gilsenan.

Currently, she is working with others on a series called ‘Chicken Lane’ that is being filmed and produced here in Manchester and Rochdale but sadly had to cancel the shoots for November due to lockdown, but states “everyone on the series so far has been lovely and we have some extremely talented people”. Also, she is currently working on a sketch show and some short films with best friend Joe, in the hopes of producing this next year.


The exploration of working-class issues and LGBTQ+ themes throughout Mary’s writing shows how they are willing to push boundaries by addressing these themes to a modern audience in the hopes of educating and changing perceptions: “I want to show people the realities of what it’s like growing up and experiencing poverty and living kind of on the outskirts of society, because those people matter and they’re not represented on screen. I’ve learnt a lot about other people’s LGBTQ+ experiences through their art and I’d like to do the same”.

(Use of this image was allowed by the copyright holder, Mary Gilsenan).
An original concept: blue-grey photo of a woman with her face blurred with a small section of Gilsenan’s poetry overlaid. Permission for use from Mary Gilsenan.

“I just want to give kids that are growing up and consuming media the message that they can do and be anything they want, even if they’re growing up in poverty like I did for a while”.

Adapting to the Covid pandemic has been undoubtedly challenging for many but as an artist, Mary states that: “It’s made me a lot more resourceful in terms of where I get my supplies from because going out the flat all the time isn’t really an option. It’s affected my writing in a worse way, unfortunately, as it takes a lot of time and brain power to write and develop stories”.

“In the new year I think I will focus more on developing my style and doing some digital work/prints or photo editing, I’m really interested in cryptids and underwater themes and I want to start creating more spooky stuff! So watch this space!”.

As of next year, Mary is aiming to set up a website to sell prints but for the meantime, further information can be found on their Instagram and Linktree.










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