Basil Blackshaw HRHA HRUA

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Artist Bio

Basil Blackshaw HRHA HRUA
Basil Blackshaw was born in Glengormley, County Antrim in 1932. He was raised in Lisburn and his father was a professional horse trainer. Blackshaw attended Methodist College Belfast and studied at the Belfast College of Art under Romeo Toogood. In 1951, Blackshaw was awarded a scholarship to study in Paris by the Committee for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts. After graduating, Blackshaw taught part-time at the Belfast School of Art, while also designing sets for the Lyric Theatre.

Blackshaw’s subjects often included traditional rural Irish themes of landscapes and horses painted in a loose, expressionist style. He typically used a gestural application of paint with non-naturalistic and subtle colours. His portraits share the same distinctive, gestural composition with sitters including Brian Friel, John Hume, and Michael Longley. His work is highly attentive to colour application, involving unusual viewpoints and proportions which highlight his exceptional technical skill.

In January 1955, Blackshaw’s first solo exhibition was held at the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery. Further exhibitions included the Studio 25 (1962), the Bell Gallery (1970), and the Tom Caldwell Gallery (1973-1992).  In 1995, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland organised a major retrospective of his work which toured in various galleries across Ireland and the United States. Blackshaw exhibited with the Royal Ulster Academy from 1955 onwards. He was elected an associate member in 1977, and an Academician in 1981. Blackshaw went on to win the Glen Dimplex Award for sustained contribution to the visual art in Ireland in 2001, while in 2012 another major retrospective of his work was organised by the Royal Hibernian Academy.

After later years of declining health, Basil Blackshaw died on 2 May 2016.

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