Art in Northern Ireland (1)
It is a theme of mine that the London art world has shamefully ignored the achievements of the group of mid-century artists who came out of Northern Ireland and it is high time they got their just deserts in terms of UK recognition.
This group is probably led by Gerard Dillon, but there are strong claims to importance from the amazing work of John Luke, the extraordinary variety of accomplished work by Colin Middleton and the moody romantic work of Daniel O’Neill. That is not to forget the work of George Campbell and Arthur Armstrong and Norah McGuinness. And that is before one considers the fascinating work of Sine Mackinnon and the more recent work of Basil Blackshaw.
But I haven’t mentioned the great sculptor of Northern Irish 20th century art, FE McWilliam, and this is an oversight.
A few weeks ago, whilst driving up the main road from Dublin to Belfast, I completely unwittingly noticed a sign to the FE McWilliam Gallery in Banbridge. The penny dropped immediately in that I knew he came from there, but I was appalled to admit that I had no idea that there was a gallery dedicated to him. And what a gallery it is. It has an excellent exhibition space, currently showing Irish Surrealist Art, outdoor sculptures by McWilliam and others and a Moore-like recreation of his studios. And a café. All in all, a marvellous find and one which does huge credit to the people of Banbridge and to the art establishment of Northern Ireland (and the McWilliam family).
Here are some pictures, and a link to the gallery website.