Belfast Telegraph

John Hume gets the Basil Blackshaw treatment

By David Young

A new portrait of the former SDLP leader John Hume is up on the wall of his holiday home near Greencastle overlooking Lough Foyle.

It was done by Basil Blackshaw (71), one of Ireland's outstanding painters, and a huge fan of the politician.

He sketched the ex-Foyle MP more than 15 years ago when he was still at the House of Commons at the cutting edge of political life.

But he never got round to actually painting him until Mr Hume took a seat at his Co Antrim studio last October.

Mary McAleese, Brian Friel and the late Davy Hammond are among his previous subjects, and he is well satisfied with his latest work which was handed over last week.

He admitted: “I'm pleased with the way it's turned out. It's a good likeness.”

Mr Hume's wife Pat said: “It's very good, and the more I look at it, the more John grows out of it. Ultimately it should hang in an institution.”

The only other Hume portrait by a major artist is an oil by Derrick Hill which is currently hanging in the Glebe Gallery outside Letterkenny.

With scores of awards from all over the world acknowledging his contribution to politics in Ireland, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is probably the most decorated politician in western Europe — taking up most of the wall space, the family still found room to give the portrait pride of place.

But friends are already speculating the painting may well eventually end up in the Magee campus at the University of Ulster's centre for international conflict studies.

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