Belfast Telegraph

Visual Art 17/07/09

By Liz Baird

The relatively new art gallery on Belfast’s Lisburn Road, which brings the total there to about nine, is Fine Art Ireland, at number 168.

It opened in December originally as a huge space but is now divided into smaller, more ‘artist friendly ‘areas.

Owner Paul McClements, who previously had a gallery in Lisburn, has very strong views about what he does and doesn’t like when it comes to painting and, as far as he’s concerned, oils are almost the only works worth buying.

He likes to show a body of work by any one artist, not simply one piece, and feels that every painting should show “structure, colour, balance and display a clearly individual style”.

Paul got his first picture as a present for his 21st birthday and has been a collector ever since. He thinks of art as investment.

“In the current financial climate you might as well put your money into something which you will enjoy looking at than leave it sitting in a bank,” he says.

A very valid point, but you must make sure that you aren’t paying over the odds for a piece.

“At the moment, stick with established artists and don’t get sucked in by the fashionable or the faddy,” he advises.

“Be discriminative and look for an artist with continuity in his work.”

He does admit, however, that sometimes it’s nice to take a risk and to spend “a bit of fun money on something you simply enjoy”.

There are a number of works hanging by one of his own favourite artists, English painter Dennis Syrett.

“There is a wonderful painterly, academic quality in his impressionistic images of everyday life,” Paul says.

Certainly, Syrett creates real atmosphere with his sensitive use of colour and light. Enveloping a wide range of subjects, he portrays everything from skyscrapers to horses, all captured on his extensive travels.

Another artist whose vigorous approach Paul admires is Colin Parke who, he says, “holds his pencil like a child and draws with such emotion that he leaves deep indentations in the card”. His expressionistic oils have something of that same enthusiasm.

Paul is showing quite a number of other artists and the works will be for sale in the gallery for some time yet. For more information check

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