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 matter includes Travellers, nudes, landscapes, and abandoned countryside buildings. 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 Hicky and Michael Longley.
Aosdána mourns the death of Basil Blackshaw
Aosdána has learned with great sadness of the death of our esteemed colleague Basil Blackshaw. Although the Antrim-born Blackshaw has long been recognised as an artist of outstandingly original formal abilities, the depth of his explorations of the character and colour of the people of Ireland, as well as his vision of the country’s landscape and animals, remain to be discovered and appreciated by generations to come. He was a uniquely imaginative genius and will be sadly missed by his friends in Aosdána.
3rd May 2016
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