The Arts Council has expressed its deep regret
at the passing of Aosdána member Basil Blackshaw who died yesterday.
Sheila Pratschke, Chair of the Arts Council
said “The Council is
deeply saddened at the passing of Basil Blackshaw. Blackshaw was one of
Ireland’s finest artists. The use of tone and movement in his work demonstrated
his unique gift for combining both a deep sensitivity for his subject matter
with a strident and bold use of paint.
This combination of both vigor and sensitivity is what makes his paintings
Basil was born in Glengormley, Co. Antrim in
1932, he studied at the Belfast College of Art. His rural background informs much
of his painting on topics such as horse-racing, dog-breeding and cock-fighting.
Other subject matters included Travellers, nudes, landscapes, and abandoned
His first major exhibition was at the Donegall
Place Gallery, Belfast (1952), and was followed by many group shows, including
the Irish Exhibition of Living Art (1958-61, 75); Tate Museum, London (1958);
and Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol (1965). Solo exhibitions include CEMA Gallery,
Belfast (1956, 61); Studio 25, Belfast (1962); Northern Irish Arts Council
Gallery, Belfast (1964, 74, 81, 83); Bell Gallery, Belfast (1970, 71); Tom
Caldwell Gallery, Belfast (1973, 75, 77, 81, 85, 92); David Hendriks Gallery,
Dublin (1987); Kerlin Gallery, Dublin (1990).
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland organised a major retrospective of
his work in 1995, which travelled from Belfast to Dublin, Cork and many
galleries in the U.S. From 1986 to 1990 he also designed posters for the Field
Day Theatre Company in Derry. His many portrait commissions include Archbishop
George Simms, Archbishop Armstrong, Brian Friel (for the Abbey Theatre),
Jennifer Johnston, Douglas Gageby, Vincent Ferguson, Ted Hickey, Michael
Longley and John Hume.
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