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Circle of Friends - William Ireland and Maeve Binchy

For fans of figurative Modern British painting, William Ireland’s joyful approach to painting provided joyous scenes of travel, the domestic landscape and picturesque vistas of the UK and beyond. 

 

Trongate, Glasgow (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Trongate, Glasgow (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images


 

Graduating from Glasgow School of Art, Ireland often depicted the Scottish countryside as well as its gothic cityscapes, which he called home. A number of his most notable works include, Trongate, Glasgow, Blue Yacht (2007-2008) and Veranda, which display the artist’s captivating signature painterly style and use of color, across a range of subjects and scenes. 

 

 

Blue Yacht, 2007/8 (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Blue Yacht, 2007/8 (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Veranda (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Veranda (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images


 
In contrast, the Plunge series investigates light, dimension, form and colour from an underwater perspective. Drawing in the viewer in a more dynamic snap from the rest of his ambient oeuvre, these scenes capture movement and energy with the same light hearted aura.

 

Plunge (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Plunge (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images


 

Ireland’s vivid colorist paintings provided a visual representation of Binchy’s heart-warming and hopeful tales. Upon first collaboration, Binchy sought out Ireland to create a cover for her celebrated 1998 novel, Tara Road, (later adapted into the 2005 film, The Holiday). The author had come across Ireland’s works in an exhibition and had used his painting of a green drawing room as the setting of lead character, Ria Lynch’s home. This was then to become the cover and artistic visual depiction of the story. 

 

Tara Road, c.2000 (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Tara Road, c.2000 (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images

 

The collaborative relationship between the two then flourished to produce over ten further covers for her books, including their personal and professional collaborations resulted in several book covers including Scarlet Feather (2000), Quentins (2002), and Nights of Rain and Stars (2004).


 

Scarlet Feather, c.2000 (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Scarlet Feather, c.2000 (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images


 

“He paints a space where you think people are going to come back at any moment, so I keep looking for them and hoping I see them. There is so much light, warmth, and hope in his paintings that I am bursting with pride to be associated with him.” - Maeve Binchy on William Ireland


 

Quentins, 2002 (oil on board), William Ireland,  (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Quentins, 2002 (oil on board), William Ireland,  (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images

 

The two became synonymously recognised, Ireland’s ability to imagine a story through a single image, was not only embraced by Binchy but provided inspiration for her many stories to come. 

 

Nights of Rain and Stars (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Nights of Rain and Stars (oil on board), William Ireland, (1927-2015) / Private Collection / © William Ireland. All rights reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images


Read more about “Circle of Friends“, an exhibition celebrating the professional collaboration between William Ireland and Meave Binchy here. Previously on view at Wilton Gallery, Dublin, Ireland; August - September 2022.

View all work in the archive by William Ireland. 

 

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