The Academy deeply regrets the passing of James McIntyre RUA

January 29, 2016

James MacIntyre (1926 – 2015) was born in Coleraine but educated in Belfast. Although he had almost completed his apprenticeship as a motor mechanic, he threw it up to begin painting and worked as a professional painter from 1946. In 1951, the Belfast artist, Gerard Dillon invited him to join him on the island of Inishlacken, off Roundstone in Connemara, for a month or so, to paint. Dillon had a cottage, rent free, for a year and the Ulster Museum has one of his most important paintings from that period ‘The Yellow Bungalow.’ The younger painter by ten years, MacIntyre, travelled from Belfast to Dublin where he stayed with another Belfast painter, George Campbell and his wife Madge, before they both proceeded to Roundstone where they were met by Dillon. Then they travelled by curragh to Inishlacken.

MacIntyre’s book ‘Three Men on an Island’, published in 1996, gives a very vivid account of this experience and the rapport between the three artists. The illustrations, mainly by MacIntyre, portray life on an island in the 50’s which is now uninhabited but these works convey the essence of MacIntyre’s art, his use of bold watercolours, his ease of drawing as he captured in pen and ink the islanders as they carried out their daily chores, of bringing seaweed from the shore to the potato beds, using a scythe to cut the hay, repairing the thatch on their cottage roofs, shearing sheep, bringing in creels of turf from the bog with their donkeys, their use of curraghs to travel between the island and Roundstone. The book also captures the artists’ depiction of the cottages, the surrounding beautiful landscape and seascapes and the three artists themselves at work capturing it.

James MacIntrye’s artistic output from these six weeks on Inishlacken became his one–person exhibition at the CEMA Art Gallery, 55a, Donegall Place, Belfast in 1952. In 1960, CEMA became the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Life was difficult for the younger artist, as it was too, for even the more established artists, Dillon and Campbell to make a career out of painting pictures in the 1950’s. They could barely afford artists’ materials and welcomed the introduction of hardboard as a new support, Dillon even using a blow torch to melt off the old paint of an unsuccessful work so that he could reuse the board. 

James MacIntyre was awarded a CEMA travelling scholarship in 1955, which allowed the artist to travel to Paris to study painting. He had a one–person exhibition in the Arts Council Gallery in 1960 and the Bell Gallery, Belfast, held a one–person exhibition of his work in 1967 and again in 1976 and launched his book ‘Three Men on an Island’ with an exhibition in 1996.

After spending some years in London working as a book illustrator, he returned to Northern Ireland and worked in the Belfast College of Art and continued to paint, making Greenisland, Co. Antrim his home. He exhibited with the Royal Ulster Academy from 1948, becoming an associate in 1965 and an Academician in 1985. His diploma painting, a watercolour ‘William James Stewart’s Farm, Knockagh Hill’ depicts a rural scene with the farmer clearing the barn, his iconic black and white cow approaching the hay trough, white walls of barns against a cloudy sky. The flashes of colour in the red barn doors, the colour and movement of the sheets and pillowcases on the line, the simplicity and freshness of paint application, capture the essence of a typical well managed Ulster farm.  The artistic inspiration of his visit to Inishlacken, at age 25 years, grounded the young artist and developed his painterly expression for the next sixty years of his long creative life.


James McIntyre 

Dr Denise Ferran

President, Royal Ulster Academy.


134th Annual Exhibition Closed

January 05, 2016

The Academy’s 134th Annual Exhibition at the Ulster Museum is now closed. Thank you to all our exhibiting artists, sponsors, volunteers, staff at the Ulster Museum and of course our many visitors, for making the show such a success! 

Sold and unsold exhibition works can be collected from the Academy’s offices at River House (48 High St, Belfast, BT1 2BE) on Sunday 17th January between 11am and 3pm. Access to the premises on this date will be via Waring St (car parking available for collection purposes only). Works can also be collected by courier from Monday 18th – Friday 22nd January – please notify the office in advance to ensure your work is ready for collection.

Happy New Year!

A great turn out for our final exhibition tour today by Brian Ballard RUA.

January 02, 2016

  Brian Ballard talk

Colin Davidson

Colin Davidson is a contemporary artist, living and working near Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Since graduating with a first class honours degree from the Art and Design Faculty at the University of Ulster in 1991, Colin Davidson has exhibited extensively in London, New York, Milan and across Ireland. He has been shown regularly at the Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition, where he has twice won awards, and has been an Academician of the Royal Ulster Academy since 2006, having won the R.U.A. Gold Medal three times and the Silver Medal twice.

Colin Davidson’s work is in public and corporate collections across Ireland, including the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, the BBC, the National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland, Limerick, the Office of Public Works Collection, Ireland, the Law Society of Ireland and Queen’s University, Belfast. A selection of portraits of writers and actors from Colin’s latest body of work is presently on display in the newly-reopened Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

Artist Works

Sir Kenneth Branagh

Graphite, crayon and pastel on paper

122 x 112

Sir Kenneth Branagh

Graphite, crayon and pastel on paper

122 x 112