seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Death of Tony O’Malley, One of Ireland’s Leading Painters

Irish artist Tony O’Malley dies at his home in Physicianstown, Callan, County Kilkenny, on January 20, 2003.

O’Malley is born in Callan, County Kilkenny, on September 25, 1913. He is a self-taught artist, having drawn and painted for pleasure from childhood. He works as a bank officìal until contracting tuberculosis in the 1940s. He begins painting in earnest while convalescing and, though he does at first return to bank work, he continues to paint and in 1951 he begins exhibiting his work.

In 1955 O’Malley holidays in St. Ives, Cornwall, England, then an important center of abstract art, and home to the artists Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, and Bryan Wynter, who he meets and works with. He returns again in 1957 and in 1958 retires from the bank to paint full-time. Prompted by a mixture of frustration at the indifference shown in Ireland to his work, an attraction to the sense of freedom he feels among the artists in Cornwall, and an engagement with the attempt to represent natural forms current in their abstraction, he settles in St. Ives in 1960. While he is strongly influenced by the St. Ives artistic community, his relationship is one of engagement rather than direct participation. His painting never completely assimilates the rigour and formality of the British abstract painters. It retains a muscular extravagance which is central to his artistic identity. O’Malley explains:

“Not so much abstract as essence. I could not paint for the sake of the pigment of whatever, but I like abstract form in the painting which instills it with meaning and power. Abstraction does enable you to get under the surface, to get beyond appearance, and to express the mind. But abstraction for its own sake does not interest me.”

O’Malley adopts a sombre palette in the second half of the 1960s and many of his paintings are dedicated to the memory of his friend and mentor, Peter Lanyon, who is killed when the glider he is piloting crashes in 1964.

In 1973 O’Malley marries Jane Harris, and through the mid-70s they spend time in the Bahamas and in O’Malley’s native Callan. During this period, his paintings become less sombre and the Bahamas paintings are extremely colourful and vibrant. In 1990 they move back to Ireland. In 1993 he is elected a Saoi of Aosdána.

O’Malley dies at his home in Physicianstown, County Kilkenny, on January 20, 2003. At the time he is regarded as one of Ireland’s leading painters.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) displays a major retrospective of his work in 2005, a selection from which is exhibited at the Tate St. Ives in 2006. The Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, stages posthumous exhibitions of his visual diaries in 2005, and his constructions in 2010.

In 2010 under the guidance of Jane O’Malley the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) establishes an artist’s residency in the house where O’Malley grew up in Callan, County Kilkenny. The studio residency is awarded to artists who work primarily in paint. Previous recipients of the Tony O’Malley Studio Residency Award include Magnhild Opdøl, Ciaran Murphy, Ramon Kassan, Mollie Douthit, David Quinn and Paraic Leahy.


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Birth of Nancy Wynne-Jones, Welsh & Irish Landscape Artist

Nancy Wynne-Jones HRHA, Welsh and Irish artist, is born Mary Esperance Wynne-Jones on December 10, 1922 in Penmaenucha, Dolgellau, Wales.

Wynne-Jones is born to landowner Charles Llewellyn Wynne-Jones and Sybil Mary Gella Scott. The family spends half the year in Wales and half the year in Thornhill, Stalbridge, Dorset, England. She has two brothers, Andrew and Ronald (“Polly”), both of whom die in Africa during World War II.

Wynne-Jones is educated at home. Her skill in art leads to her getting lessons in Sherborne from a children’s book illustrator. Her music is encouraged by the family doctor and she begins to compose and study the violin, receiving lessons in Bournemouth with the first violinist of the symphony orchestra and continues in Aberystwyth after the start of World War II. She goes on to study the violin and composition at the Royal Academy of Music, London (1940–43). While in London she also serves as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse until 1943 and later as a draughtswoman at the Ordnance Survey.

After the war Wynne-Jones purchases and manages a bookshop on the King’s Road in Chelsea, but it is not a financial success. She returns to painting, studying at the Heatherley School of Fine Art, London (1951-52) and the Chelsea School of Art (1952–55). She travels extensively through Portugal and Italy painting landscapes. An interest in completing landscapes in an abstract manner leads her to study with Peter Lanyon in St. Ives, Cornwall.

Wynne-Jones begins study in Cornwall in 1957 and remains there for fifteen years. Her first public exhibition is in a group show (1957) at the Pasmore Edwards Gallery, Newlyn. Other group shows are Jefferson Place Gallery, Washington, D.C., (1959), and in Falmouth, Cornwall (1960). Her solo exhibitions are at the New Vision Centre, London (1962 and 1965), Florence (1963) and Dolgellau (1964). From the 1960s through the 1990s she exhibits in Great Britain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Holland, South Africa, and the United States.

In 1962 Wynne-Jones purchases Trevaylor House near Penzance and provides accommodation for other artists including renowned Irish painter Tony O’Malley, sculptor Conor Fallon, and English poet and writer W. S. ‘Sydney’ Graham. In the 1970s she exhibits in Ireland at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin (1970) and at the Emmet Gallery, Dublin (1975 and 1977). During the 1980s she exhibits at the Lincoln and Hendricks galleries in Dublin before joining the Taylor Galleries, run by John and Patrick Taylor. She is elected honorary member of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in 1994 and becomes a member of Aosdána in 1996. Originally an abstract artist, her contact with the Irish countryside slowly transforms her work to that of a landscape artist, albeit with an influence of abstraction attached to it. She becomes well known in Irish art circles as an eminent Irish landscape artist.

Wynne-Jones is involved with artist Derek Middleton before moving to Cornwall. There she becomes romantically involved with Graham who is in an open marriage, however it is the death of her mentor Peter Lanyon that devastates her. She meets the sculptor Conor Fallon through their mutual friend Tony O’Malley. Fallon had arrived in Cornwall ostensibly to meet Lanyon. They marry in 1966. Their honeymoon in Provence is immortalised in expressionist paintings done by Wynne-Jones. The couple adopts a boy and a girl, siblings, John and Bridget. In 1972 she moves with her family to Kinsale, County Cork. It is in this area that a number of her paintings are created. She moves to Ballard House, near Rathdrum, County Wicklow in 1987. There she paints the mountain visible from her home.

Wynne-Jones dies at the age of 83 on November 9, 2006. She is buried in Ballinatone (Church of Ireland), Rathdrum.

(Pictured: “Klein Constantia with Table Mountain” by Nancy Wynne-Jones, acrylic on paper, 16 1/2″ x 23″)