Robert Ballagh

Robert BallaghThe Irish painter and designer Robert Ballagh was born in Dublin in 1943. A graduate of the Dublin Institute of Technology in architecture, he worked as an engineering draughtsman, a musician and a postman before taking up fine art painting full-time at the age of 24.

Pop-art is a major influence on Ballagh’s style of painting, and his artworks can be humorous as well as didactic.

As in the case of many artists, Ballagh was obliged to combine fine art with more commercial design activities. Using his graphic design skills, he produced over 70 stamps for An Post, as well as a series of Irish banknotes (“Series C”) for the government just prior to the introduction of the euro.

Ballagh also produced a wide range of murals, posters, limited prints and book covers. His theatre and set designs include works for “I’ll Go On”, Gate Theatre (1985); Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame”, Gate Theatre (1991); the Riverdance company; Oscar Wilde’s “Salomé”, Gate Theatre, Dublin (1998); and the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics in Croke Park, Dublin (2003).

Ballagh represented Ireland at the Paris Biennale Exhibition in 1969, and at numerous exhibitions in Europe and overseas, such as Florence, Ljubljana and Tokyo. Ballagh’s paintings are held in several public collections of Irish painting including the National Gallery of Ireland, the Hugh Labe Gallery, the Ulster Museum, Trinity College Dublin, and Nuremberg’s Albrecht Durer House.

Robert Ballagh 2Major exhibitions of his work have been staged in various European galleries, including Lund, Warsaw, Sofia and Dublin.

Ballagh was elected the first chairman of the Artists’ Association of Ireland (Aosdana) on its foundation in 1981, and is a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science. Ballagh is married to Elizabeth Carabini in 1967 and has two children.

The auction record for a work by Robert Ballagh was set in 2004, when his interior painting, entitled My Studio (1969), was sold at Whytes, in Dublin, for €96,000.

Conor Fallon (1939-2007)

Cono Fallon 2An influential exponent of contemporary  Irish sculpture during the late 20th century, Conor Fallon was strongly influenced by the artist Toney O’Malley and the St Ives group of artists in Cornwell where he lived for some time. His most recognizable works were large steel sculptures of birds, hares, horses and fish.

Fallon was born in Dublin in 1939, one of six sons to the poet Padraic Fallon. The family soon moved to Wexford where the children shared the management of the farm, while their father worked as a customs official. The house was always full of visitors including writers, musicians and painters. As a child Fallon was fascinated by wildlife, especially birds, and often copied pictures from Archibald Thornburn s Book of Birds. He recalled later that his older brother Brian (who became an Art and Literary critic for the Irish Times) was a significant influence on him by introducing him to stories from the Odyssey.

Fallon was accepted into Trinity College, Dublin to study natural science. But on the advice of a perceptive professor, Fallon soon left Trinity and turned his attention to fine art. His father was horrified because he believed his son’s paintings to be ‘dreadful’. Ever practical, Fallon worked as an accountant during the day to earn a wage, and studied art by night. His early acrylic and gouache landscapes show strong influences ofJack B Yeats.

Wexford co co art purchases for 06-Conor Fallon  Crow Bronze Sculpture

In 1964 Fallon went to St Ives to see the artist Tony O’Malley, who was a family friend and had settled there a few years previously. He had hoped to study with the abstract landscapist Peter Lanyon, but on the day of his arrival, Lanyon died from injuries he received in a hand gliding accident. Instead, Fallon was introduced to a pupil of Lanyon – the artist Nancy Wynne-Jones, who was 15 years his senior. They felt an instant connection and were married in 1966. By this time, he had become disillusioned with his paintings, most of which he destroyed.

A turning point in his career came when he was introduced to the sculptors Denis Mitchell and Breon O’Casey who took Fallon under their wing. Mitchell in particular instilled a disciplined work ethic in Fallon, insisting that the last 100th of an inch was essential to the integrity of a piece. When Fallon created an Owl In Aluminium (1969) Mitchell advised him to specialize in sculpture.

Fallon held his first exhibition in 1972, in Nanly Orion. Subsequent solo exhibitions were staged in the Emmet Gallery, Dublin (1975), Taylor Galleries, Dublin (1983, 1990, 1993), Ballinglen Arts Fellows at Art Alliance, Philadelphia (1994) and the Theo Waddington Fine Art, Canada.

Although Fallon initially gained recognition for his smaller sculptures of birds, he later confessed he was unable to see how he could convert them into public sculptures without the risk of distortion. He eventually became better known for his large scale steel sculptures, mainly commissioned for public places such as Enniscorthy Bridge (The Singing Bird, (1993) the Bank of Ireland Centre, Independent Newspapers at Citywest, St Patricks Hospital and University College Cork. His works have a sleek, spare beauty with clean lines. He was also influenced by Cubism, which he considered ‘the’ development in the art of the 20th century. He was also influenced by the Romanian Sculptor Constantin Brancusi, as well as early Greek and Egyptian carved figure sculpture.

Fallon was awarded the Oireachtas Gold Medal for Sculpture in 1980, he was elected to Aosdana in 1984, and he became an Associate Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1981 and a full Member in 1989. He was awarded an Honorary Degree from the National College of Art and Design in 1993.

He died within one year of the death of his beloved wife Nancy, in County Wicklow, and is survived by their 2 children.


Evie Hone (1894–1955)

Evie Hone 2The Irish Cubist painter and stained glass artist Evie Hone was born in Dublin. One of the earliest abstract painters in the history of Irish art, she was the great-great-great granddaughter of Joseph Hone, a brother of the portrait painter Nathaniel Hone the Elder RA (1718-1784) and father of two other portraitists Horace Hone (1756-1825) and John Camillus Hone (1759-1836). Struck by infantile paralysis, Evie suffered from lameness the rest of her life.

After studying drawing and painting at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London, Evie Hone continued her studies at the Westminster School of Art under Walter Sickert (1860-1942), where she met her lifelong friend and fellow artist Mainie Jellett (1897-1944).

From London, the pair continued studying in France, first under Andre Lhote, then under Albert Gleizes, the great Cubist theorist. At this time, Evie Hone concerned herself with portraits, landscapes and (increasingly) abstract pictures.

Returning home, Hone and Jellett held a joint exhibition at the Dublin Painters Gallery, largely featuring their new and highly abstract art. The critics were not impressed with the non-representational qualities of the paintings displayed, and were baffled by their abstraction.

After a short break, Evie Hone continued studying with Gleizes. Both she and Jellett joined the Abstraction-Creation group of artists, who specialized in geometric abstraction – or, concrete art – and had their paintings published in the group’s Parisian magazine. Both Irish artists then submitted their paintings to the Salon d’Automne, the Salon des Surindependants and the Salon des Independants. Evie also submitted to the Water Colour Society of Ireland (WCSI) and during the years 1930-1945 had more than 40 works displayed. Of these, roughly 15 were for stained glass.

Evie HoneFrom hereon, Evie’s main artistic preoccupation was with stained glass art. She first joined Sarah Purser’s studio – the stained glass co-operative An Túr Gloine – before setting up a studio of her own in Rathfarnham and becoming influenced by the great Harry Clarke.

Over the next twenty years, she undertook a number of commissions and left an impressive legacy of artwork in this genre. Evie Hone’s most important works are the Crucifixion and Last Supper windows at Eton Chapel, Windsor (1949-1952) and “My Four Green Fields”, now located in Government Buildings.

Evie Hone was a founder member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art (IELA). In 1958, University College Dublin staged a memorial exhibition of her Irish painting, drawing and stained glass designs, which attracted a record attendance. In 2005-6, the National Gallery of Ireland held an exhibition of her works.

The auction record for a work by Evie Hone was set in 2005, when one of her stained glass masterpieces – entitled, Stations of the Cross, for Kiltullagh Church, County Galway – was sold at Whyte’s, in Dublin, for €42,000.

Brian Ballard

Brian Ballard 2The Irish colourist, genre painter and landscape artist Brian Ballard was born in Belfast in 1943, where he studied drawing and painting at the College of Art (1961-1964), and afterwards at the Liverpool College of Art (1964-1965). In 1968, he took up a post with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. In 1970, he won the Carroll Prize in the Irish Exhibition of Living Art.

Ballard’s paintings are noted for their rich colours and bold brushstrokes, while sometimes he repaints the same scene several times to portray its differing moods.

A virtuoso master of light and shadow, Ballard has developed a palette with the highly evocative pigments midnight blue and aqua marine, laying down thick strokes of paint that bring great depth and expression to his canvases.

His artworks have appeared in many solo and group exhibitions at art galleries throughout Ireland and the UK, such as Gormleys fine art.

Brian BallardHis solo shows include: Queen’s Gallery, Belfast (1970); Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast (1972,74,82,83,87,94); Bell Gallery, Belfast (1976); Image Gallery, Dublin (1977,80); Newry & Mourne Arts Centre (1985); Grafton Gallery, Dublin (1986); Main Fine Art, Glasgow (1986); Solomon Gallery, London (1987,88,96,98); Beaux Arts, Bath (1987,89,91); Kerlin Gallery, Derry (1988,90,91,94); Grafton Gallery, Dublin (1989); Mistral Galleries, London (1990); Waterman Fine Art, London (1992); Cadogan Contemporary, London (1993,95); Trist Ann’s Gallery, Dundalk (1995); Cadogan Contemporary, London (1998); Trist Ann’s Gallery, Dundalk (1999); The Kenny Gallery, Galway (2001, 2003).

Brian Ballard’s artwork is represented in An Chomhairle Ealaion, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection, the P J Carroll and Co. Collection, Jefferson Smurfit Group Plc, Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork, the University of Ulster and the Ulster Museum, Belfast Education and Library Board, Royal Bank of Scotland, Guinness Peat Aviation, Waterford Crystal Plc, C.R. Sugar Trading, Conrad International Hotel Dublin, Irish Intercontinental Bank, and others.

The auction record for a work by Brian Ballard was set in 2004, when his oil painting entitled My Studio, 1969 was sold at Whytes, Dublin, for €96,000.

Felim Egan

Felim EganThe contemporary abstract painter Felim Egan was born in Strabane, County Tyrone in 1952. He studied painting and drawing in Belfast and Portsmouth before attending the Slade School of Fine Art in London, after which he began exhibiting in the late 1970s. He also studied for 12 months at the British School at Rome in 1980 before returning to Dublin. One of Ireland’s most respected exponents of abstract art, his paintings are carefully built up in layers of thin colour with stone powder ground into the acrylic. His visual vocabulary includes the use of hieroglyphic-type motifs over monochromatic areas of colour, evoking long horizons, big skies and empty sands.

Felim Egan represented Ireland at the Paris Biennale in 1980 and the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1985, and has enjoyed more than 55 solo shows throughout Europe and the USA since 1979. Major exhibitions of his artworks were held at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin in 1995-96, and at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 1999. He was awarded the Premier UNESCO Prize for the Arts in Paris in 1983, and in 1997 he received the Gold Award at Cagnes-sur-Mer. Egan has received several large scale commissions, including works for Dublin Castle and the National Gallery of Ireland. In addition, he recently completed a large scale sculpture at Cork Street, Dublin, October 2005. He is also a member of Aosdana.

Felim-Egan 2Felim Egan’s work is represented in numerous collections both public and private, including those of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Hugh Lane Gallery; An Comhairle Ealaion/Tha Arts Council; Trinity College, Dublin; University College Dublin; Office of Public Works; Conrad Hotel; Irish Life, Dublin; Allied Irish Banks; Bank of Ireland; Aer Lingus; A & L Goodbody Ltd, Dublin; Gate Theatre; Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny; Guinness Peat Aviation, Shannon; the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Ulster Museum, Belfast; North West Arts Trust, Derry; Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; The British Library; Frtiz-Winter-Haus, Moderne Kunst Museum, Ahlen, Germany; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the European Parliament; Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York; and others.

The auction record for a work by Felim Egan was set in 2007, when his abstract painting, entitled Intertidal Note, was sold at DeVeres, in Dublin, for €19,500.