Renowned Co Antrim painter Basil Blackshaw dies

One of Ireland's best-known painters, Basil Blackshaw, has died. Picture by F22 Photography/Press Association

ONE of Ireland's best-known artists, Co Antrim painter Basil Blackshaw, died on Monday morning.

Mr Blackshaw, born in Glengormley in 1932, was known for his striking paintings of rural scenes including horse-racing and dog-breeding. He also tackled subjects including Irish Travellers, landscapes and abandoned countryside buildings.

Raised in Port Mills, Co Down, he studied at Belfast College of Art between 1948 and 1951 and was later awarded a scholarship to study in Paris.

In 1959 he married Australian artist Anna Ritchie and she gave birth to their daughter Anya three years later.

His marriage to Ms Ritchie ended in 1972. He later met his long-term partner Helen Falloon and they settled into a house outside Antrim.

Mr Blackshaw's work was exhibited in galleries including the Tate Museum, London; Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol; the Kerlin Gallery, Dublin and Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast.

He also designed posters for the Field Day Theatre Company in Derry. Mr Blackshaw painted several portraits, including of writers Brian Friel and Jennifer Johnston, former SDLP leader John Hume and poet Michael Longley.

Hugely reluctant to give interviews he once visited his own exhibition wearing a paper bag over his head. However he later agreed to be interviewed and a documentary about him 'Basil Blackshaw: An Edge of Society Man' was broadcast on the BBC earlier this year.

Artist Colin Davidson, who painted a portrait of Mr Blackshaw, wrote of his loss.

"My hero has died. Thank you Basil Blackshaw. Rest in Peace," he tweeted.

Ards Art Centre said Mr Blackshaw had "influenced generations of Northern Irish artists".

"Very sorry to hear the sad news that artist Basil Blackshaw has passed away," they wrote on their Facebook page.

Broadcaster John Kelly tweeted: "Basil Blackshaw - our greatest painter - has passed away. Rest in peace wonderful man."

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