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Renowned artist Basil Blackshaw dies at the age of 84

Published 03/05/2016

Reclusive: Basil Blackshaw
Reclusive: Basil Blackshaw

Basil Blackshaw, one of Northern Ireland's best-known artists, has died.

Blackshaw was born in Co Down in 1932 and he went on to paint rural scenes and portraits of writers such as Brian Friel, John Hewitt and Michael Longley.

He studied at Methodist College Belfast and then the Art College in the city. In 1951 he was awarded a scholarship by the Committee for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts to study in Paris.

He went on to exhibit his work in galleries including the Tate Museum, London, and the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol.

He was elected as an associate of the Royal Ulster Academy of the Arts in 1977.

His paintings reflected his rural upbringing in Port Mills, Co Down, and he was particularly admired for his studies of horse racing and boxing. He was a reclusive character who shunned the public eye, and he did not give a television interview until earlier this year.

Eamonn Mallie, who interviewed Blackshaw in January, told the BBC: "He was a beautiful man, one of the most generous human beings I have ever known.

"He didn't seek the limelight and we were very fortunate to capture the spirit of the man on camera so late in his life. He was the great painter of our era on the island of Ireland."

Following the announcement of his death yesterday, politicians and fellow artists paid tribute.

Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said: "Basil was without question the most outstanding Irish painter of his generation and his passing is a tremendous loss to the artistic world.

"He was a prodigious talent and his paintings reflected his rural upbringing.

"His works will stand the test of time and he has left a wonderful legacy for the current and future generations."

Fellow local artist Colin Davidson said: "My hero has died. Thank you Basil Blackshaw. Rest in peace."

See tomorrow's Belfast Telegraph for Basil Blackshaw's obituary.

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