Belfast Telegraph

Belfast art dealer paints positive picture of investment in Irish work

By Clare Weir

Sales at a Belfast art gallery have rocketed by over 60% as private, corporate and international buyers – including major American companies – invest in Irish works.

One Bangor artist, who has an exhibition opening this Thursday at Gilmore Fine Art, has had his works snapped up by customers including Allied Irish Bank, Ulster Bank, Queen's University and the Four Seasons Hotel.

Stephen Forbes also recently received a significant commission of 15 paintings for the Galgorm Manor hotel. Charles Gilmore of Gilmore Fine Art in Belfast city centre said that the year-on-year increase in sales of Irish fine art is a clear signal of economic recovery in Northern Ireland.

He said that Irish contemporary art represents a strong investment and that many of Northern Ireland's leading corporates are re-entering the market seeking paintings to adorn their offices.

"Traditionally those from the legal and medical profession, along with property developers and senior business figures, have been the mainstay of the art buying fraternity in Northern Ireland, but we've observed a surge of new investors, who are snapping up works by Colin Middleton, Paul Henry and Stephen Forbes," he said

"The arrival of many American companies backed by Invest Northern Ireland has sparked a flood in private buyers passing through the gallery and taking Irish art back across the Atlantic."

The work of Stephen Forbes has been purchased by collectors in America, London and in Portugal.

Forbes, whose works are held in public and private collections, is one of the few Northern Ireland graduates of the Royal Academy in London.

Mr Gilmore added: "Sales of works by Stephen Forbes typify the upturn in the Northern Irish art market and is an excellent barometer of consumer confidence returning. Stephen Forbes is the hottest property in Irish contemporary art at present.

"His fresh, funky depictions of moving persons, swimming, diving, swinging, jumping and dancing garnish the collections of many leading Irish firms and institutions."

The Stephen Forbes exhibition runs from Thursday until September 30 at Charles Gilmore Fine Art, Lanyon Quay, Oxford Street, Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph