Northern Ireland

Basil Blackshaw: Tributes paid on death of County Antrim-born artist

Basil Blackshaw Image copyright Empics
Image caption Artist Basil Blackshaw gave a rare interview to the BBC earlier this year

Tributes have been paid to the Northern Ireland artist Basil Blackshaw after his death aged 83.

He was regarded as one of the most talented painters from the island of Ireland and his works have featured in several exhibitions of Irish art.

His paintings depicted rural scenes and portraits of writers such as Brian Friel, John Hewitt and Michael Longley.

Blackshaw was also an enigmatic, elusive figure who closely guarded his privacy.

'Pushing the frontiers'

Once, he was photographed wearing a paper bag over his head while visiting one of his own exhibitions.

Image copyright Nuala Fenton, Cork/F22 Photography
Image caption Basil Blackshaw preferred his art to be in the limelight, rather than the artist

However, earlier this year he granted his first ever TV interview to BBC Northern Ireland.

Basil Blackshaw: An Edge of Society Man was broadcast in January.

'Hero'

He was interviewed by journalist and art critic Eamonn Mallie, who led the tributes as his death was announced on Monday evening.

"Great artists keep evolving, keep pushing the frontiers," Mr Mallie told BBC Radio Ulster.

"And that's what Basil did right up until the end, always seeking to break new ground."

Fellow Northern Ireland artist Colin Davidson also paid tribute on his Twitter account, saying: "My hero has died. Thank you Basil Blackshaw. Rest in peace."

Mr Davidson, speaking to the BBC, added: "He could have been the most important European painter of the last 50 years, if not one of.

"But Basil, the Basil who I knew, wasn't interested in that."

Image caption Blackshaw's paintings like Road to Clough reflected his rural upbringing

Blackshaw was born in 1932 in Glengormley, County Antrim, and was raised in Boardmills, County Down.

He was a former pupil of Methodist College, Belfast, and of the city's Art College, where he impressed his teachers from the age of 16.

He became an associate of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts in 1977 and won an award for his "sustained contribution to the visual art in Ireland" in 2001.

Dublin's Royal Hibernian Academy has described him as "one of Ireland's greatest artists" who was "lauded by the art world and his fellow painters".

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