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.

Norah McGuinness HRHA (1901-1980)

Norah McGuinness 1The Irish landscape artist, graphic designer and illustrator Norah McGuinness was born in County Derry, Northern Ireland. She studied drawing and fine art painting at the Metropolitan School of Art, Dublin (now the National College of Art & Design), the Chelsea Polytechnic, London, and then (on the advice of Mainie Jellett and Evie Hone) under the French artist André l’Hote, in Paris.

From France, McGuinness moved to London, becoming a member of the avant-garde London Group, and from 1937-39 she lived in New York. After America, she returned to settle in Dublin in 1940. She was elected an honorary member of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in 1957 but resigned in 1969.

Norah McGuinness executed vivid, highly coloured, flattened landscape paintings, (as well as still-life and portrait art) in a spontaneous style influenced in part by the colourist Fauvist movement and the artist Lhote. Although her painting remained figurative, her work reveals the Cubist influence of Lhote, and she was associated with the modern movement in Ireland. A founder member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art (she succeeded Mainie Jellet as President in 1944), McGuinness (like Maurice MacGonigal) first showed at the RHA in 1924 and became an honorary member (HRHA) in 1957. She exhibited her paintings and designs in Ireland at the Victor Waddington Galleries and The Dawson Gallery, Dublin, and in London at the Wertheim Gallery. Together with Nano Reid, she represented Ireland in the 1950 Venice Biennale.

In addition to paintings, Norah McGuinness executed a large number of book illustrations, theatre sets and costume designs during her career. She also designed the sales windows of Altman’s in New York and Brown Thomas, Grafton Street for over thirty years.

Norah McGuinness 2In 1968, a retrospective for Norah McGuinness artworks, numbering over 100, was staged by the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College Dublin. Another retrospective took place at the Frederick Gallery, Dublin, in 1996.

Her work appears in all the major Irish public collections – including: Hugh Lane Art Gallery, Dublin; Arts Council of Ireland; Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Ulster Museum, Belfast; Crawford Art Gallery, Cork; Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin; National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin; University College Dublin; Waterford Art Gallery Collection; The Victoria and Albert Museum London; Meath County Council – as well as in several important overseas collections such as the Joseph H. Hirschorn collection in New York.

The auction record for a work by Norah McGuinness was set in 2006, when his landscape painting, entitled The Little Harvest, Mayo, was sold at James Adams, in Dublin, for €210,000.

James Humbert Craig RHA (1877-1944)

JH Craig 1The Irish landscape painter James Craig was born in Belfast but spent his youth in the countryside of County Down. His Swiss mother came from a family of artists. Craig briefly attended Belfast College of Art where he studied drawing and fine art painting, cutting short his classes to become a largely self-taught painter of landscapes.

Eschewing all intellectualism or mystique in his art, James Craig took all his inspiration from the scenery, people and culture of Ireland – above all, from what he saw with his two eyes. He never attempted to embellish or distort nature. His job, as a landscape painter was to reflect nature as it was.

Despite this fidelity to Nature, Craig was not above dramatizing his landscape painting in the style of Paul Henry. Also, despite his indifference to Barbizon landscape art, Craig’s plein air painting method was similar to that of the Impressionists, as he was at his happiest out of doors either painting or fishing. Even so, he believed in the typical Irish values of faith, frugality and community. Many of his colour schemes are consciously sober and the raw beauty of the landscape is expressed in rugged paintwork.

Craig painted in many different locations, including the Glens of County Antrim, as well as the more inhospitable coastal landscapes of Donegal and Galway. He developed no interest in figure painting, and some of his human figures are conspicuous for their lack of detail. A successful painter of his day, Craig exhibited regularly at the Royal Hibernian Academy from 1915 and was elected to both the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) and the Royal Ulster Academy (RUA).

JH Craig 2Examples of his work may be seen in the collections of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The Armagh County Museum, The Hugh Lane Gallery Dublin, The Ulster Museum in Belfast and The National Gallery of Ireland. The Oriel Gallery mounted an exhibition of his work in 1978.

The auction record for a work by the Irish painter James Humbert Craig was set in 2007, when his landscape painting, entitled A Soft Day, Connemara, was sold at Christie’s, in London, for £69,600