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Viewpoint: Auction of aviator’s art is a brush with history

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One of Lillian Bland's paintings being offered for auction

One of Lillian Bland's paintings being offered for auction

One of Lillian Bland's paintings being offered for auction

To describe Lilian Bland as a remarkable woman is to do her scant justice. She was truly a world leader in aviation, being the first female to build and fly her own aircraft in 1909, and led a chequered, colourful life.

Although born in England she spent a good part of her life in Northern Ireland, launching her biplane from Carnmoney Hill north of Belfast. That alone should have made her a household name but she was a pioneer without acclaim in her own country.

Lilian was the first woman jockey in Ireland and later became a businesswoman, setting up the first Model T Ford dealership in Belfast.

She also dabbled in art, although her works are classified as typically amateurish.

However, four of her pictures are to go under the hammer later this month with reserve prices of £50 to £100.

But the real value is not in the artistic merit but in the story of the incredible woman who painted them. Who could resist owning a painting by someone with her back story? It is quite simply priceless.

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