Belfast Telegraph

Artist John Stewart hits new heights with tribute to Belfast's iconic cranes

Artist John Stewart in his studio in east Belfast
Artist John Stewart in his studio in east Belfast
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

A new exhibition by an acclaimed local artist behind some of Belfast's best-known wall art is celebrating 50 years of the city's iconic giant cranes.

John Stewart's oil-on-canvas collection, which is currently online at Bangor Auctions, comprises 50 pieces featuring the skyline-dominating landmark.

The east Belfast native, whose renowned artwork includes paintings of Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley and the Titanic, said he wanted to do something special to mark five decades of Harland & Wolff's world famous gantry cranes Samson and Goliath.

"It's taken me a year to complete the exhibition for the 50th anniversary collection but I'm very pleased with the way it has turned out," he said.

Three Wise Men
Three Wise Men

"There are 50 paintings depicting the cranes in various settings and I hope people are going to enjoying looking at them as much as I enjoyed creating them.

"Belfast Lough, Belfast Docks and shipyard workers feature in some of the artwork and I've also tried to capture the workers at different times of the day."

He added: "Things are very challenging in the art world at the moment but I'm hoping that the online auction will attract the attention of people who love the cranes as much as I do."

John (46), who studied Art and Design at Ashfield Boys' secondary school, has established his name through a vast body of mural work around the city.

A professional signwriter and poster writer as well as a mural artist, he has been commissioned numerous times by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

He also restored the much-loved Titanic mural located on the corner of Newtownards Road and Dee Street to its former glory in October 2015.

Across The Lagan
Across The Lagan

Admirers of the black-and-white Titanic wall painting - a popular stop-off point on the city's bus and taxi tours - had complained that his original creation had become tatty, weathered and dilapidated.

The mural, which appeared in 2003, commemorates the world-famous liner that sank after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage to New York in 1912, as well as the H&W shipyard workers who built it.

Away from the street corners, his more traditional artwork is well-known on the auction circuits of Belfast and Dublin and this art will be on sale online at Bangor Auctions until Wednesday, December 11.

Down The Lough
Down The Lough

Grahame Hull, owner of Bangor Auctions, said he was delighted to be hosting the local man's work.

"We are very happy to be hosting John's artwork, which he has signed," Mr Hull said.

"He is very well known in his field and he has, of course, lived in east Belfast all his life under the shadow of the cranes so this exhibition is particularly special for him.

"I hope we'll be able to sell a few paintings for him over the next few days."

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