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Seamus Heaney portrait finds new home at visitor centre

Artist Richard Morgan alongside his portrait of famed poet Seamus Heaney
Andrew Madden

A PORTRAIT of Seamus Heaney by the artist Jeffrey Morgan will take centre stage in the soon to be opened HomePlace literary centre in the late poet's hometown of Bellaghy.

The portrait features the celebrated wordsmith seated in his Dublin study surrounded by books and personal effects, and will take pride of place in the new literary centre, which will open at the end of the month.

The painting is framed with the wood from a 200-year-old Walnut tree that fell in Jeffrey Morgan's garden during a storm. The salvaged wood was much admired by Heaney in a visit to the Welsh artist's home.

The portrait is on a long-term loan from the collection of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and its director Noirin McKinney said the painting's new home would be a fitting relocation.

“We are delighted to loan the Heaney portrait to HomePlace,” she said.

“In fact, it was quite emotional to hand over the portrait in Bellaghy and experience the thrill of seeing this beautifully crafted, large-scale painting of the poet, quietly reading in the corner. It feels as though the paining has come home”.

Councillor Trevor Wilson, chair of the Mid-Ulster District Council responsible for the HomePlace centre, said the painting would be a welcome addition to the exhibition.

“We are both pleased and privileged to be giving the portrait a new home, thanks to the generosity of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the artist, Jeffrey Morgan,” he said.

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