BELFAST – 1985

Reliefs and small objects made in response to the Troubles. Exhibited at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Gallery.


Painted wood, Brass &
Mixed Found Objects
35 cm x 50 cm
Painted Board, Aluminium
& Found Objects
35 cm x 100 cm
Painted Plywood &
Found Objects
110 cm x 55 cm
Painted Board &
Found Objects
40 cm x 70 cm


The painter Jack Smith remarked that an artist can have three major one-man shows after which his work is priced out of the market. I have been lucky because I have had four. The first took place in 1963, at Denis Bowen’s ‘New Vision Centre’ Gallery; the second in Belfast more than twenty years later. The third was the 50 year Retrospective show in the ‘In Flanders Fields’ Museum in Ypres, Flanders, and the fourth at Pangolin London Gallery at Kings Place, near Kings Cross, London in 2014.

It is the second one man exhibition that concerns me here because it was held in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Gallery in Bedford Street, in the centre of Belfast. The gallery had been bombed several times and the Northern Irish Troubles showed no sign of ending in 1985. Some of the coloured reliefs were made in Belfast, in a spacious, lofty studio in a semi-derelict office building, outside the steel security barrier in the centre of the City. It was the largest and best studio I have ever had and the view over the city, part of the docks and the mountains behind gave me inspiration.

It is one of the ironies of that period that the arts thrived in Northern Ireland. There was an intense, almost frantic need to create something, almost as a counter to so much destruction. I liked my students as much as I disliked my employers and developed a great admiration for the people of Belfast.

I taught in the Ulster Polytechnic from 1979 to 1981. A minority of works shown in Belfast were completed in that studio, several others either begun or conceived and drawn there. The bulk of the work was completed or made in an agricultural building in Oxfordshire in between teaching blocks in Hull. I called a later, touring show of the same work ‘Irregular Triangle’ because my life divided between three rivers, the Lagan, the Thames and the Humber.