Still not a dicky-bird!

Despite extensive enquiries I am still at a total loss to find out anything about W. (William ?) Huston. He was active in the 1970/80s and even if he died in the late 1980s it’s not that long ago and somebody must know something about him. Some of his paintings – most of which have been sold in Northern Ireland – have Ulster Watercolour Society written on them but by whom? The UWS have no record of him and it is possible that some gallery or auctioneer took it upon themselves to append this information.

Some of his paintings were sold through the Arches Gallery on the Newtownards Road, Belfast, but that has long since closed and its proprietor disappeared. Anyone know who the owner was and does he still walk amongst us?

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to purchase another of his paintings through a seller on Done Deal, bringing my total haul to eight but it’s been hard work. The quality of his work varies greatly but this one was a ‘must have’ and a bargain at €120 including p+p from Limerick.

Please contact me at with any snippet of information.

Adam Ruins Everything – How The Fine Art Market is a Scam!

A couple of years old but well worth a look if you’re one of those cynics like me who is constantly flabbergasted by the reviews of and the prices paid for a lot of contemporary/abstract art. – Enjoy.


Andy Pat’s Wandering Sheep reach the South West!

Far from home, Andy Pat’s sheep turned up in Morgan O’Driscoll’s “Off the Wall” sale last night (30/9/2019). The identity of the artist whose sheep paintings are usually only found north of the border remains a mystery despite many enquiries. Can anybody help me out?

Lot.376. “At the Portrush Open” acrylic on canvas board (10″ x 12″), sold for €100.00.

Gathered and Distilled…..

When I started out with this blog I set myself a target of buying at least one painting every month, but recently I’ve rather lost the run of myself. As a newcomer to collecting Art it has taken me a while to make up my mind what I really like and where I’m going with my collection. I began with buying Irish landscape watercolours by several less well known artists including Leon O’Kennedy (1900 – 1976); David Livingston (1920 – 1978) and Ross MacDonald Ross (1891 – 1972).

Whitepark Bay” by David Livingston. I never tire of seascapes of the Northern Irish coast!

Untitled Irish landscape oil on board (11″ x 19″) by Leon O’Kennedy purchased on eBay.

In recent months I’ve been fortunate in making contact with several other collectors with the same interests which has allowed me to get copies of works that that I might otherwise have felt the urge to bid on myself. This has meant that I can now concentrate on paintings purely for my own collection safe in the knowledge that copies of ones that I will need for ‘the project‘ will be available to me when the time is right.

Kanturk Castle, Co.Cork” watercolour by Lady Coralie Kinahan (1924 – 2015), purchased for a song at Ross’s, Belfast.

It was probably inevitable that I should find myself drawn back to my first interest as a child – birdwatching – and there are so many paintings out there at very reasonable prices. My current obsession is for William Huston a Northern Irish (?) artist about whom nothing seems to be known despite inquiries in all the right places. I already have seven of his works in my collection – including four in the last week.

Pheasants” oil on canvas (20″ x 30″) by W Huston – again from Ross’s and at just under £40 plenty of bang for my buck!

Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin” a large oil on canvas by Edward Tomkus (1936) – purchased on eBay for just £45

Careful management of my very limited funds together with too many hours of research, the occasional payout by Paddy Power Bookmakers means that I’ll soon have to open an Art Gallery to house the collection.

With PP as my main benefactor I couldn’t resist finishing with this delightful ACEO card by English artist Joanne Lennox – at £4.96 for the miniature painting (3.5″ x 2.5″) it’s probably one of my more expensive purchases.

65th Texaco Children’s Art Competition

Once again, the Texaco Children’s Art Competition produced any amount of  quality paintings that one would be happy to give wall space to. At the older end of the spectrum there were some wonderful portraits while at the younger end many of the works would give the late Basil Blackshaw a run for his money.

Above left to right:Lifelines” a watercolour drawing by the overall winner, 16-year-old Naoise Hennessy from Coláiste Bhríde, Carnew, Co. Wicklow; and “10th February” which received a Special Merit Award for 18-year-old Daragh O’Brien from Carrigaline Community School, Carrigaline, Co. Cork.

“Evening In The Village” by 12-year-old David McPartlin from Ardscoil Rís, North Circular Road, Limerick received a Special Merit Award.

Overall the wonderful, natural talent bodes well for the future of Irish Art as long as those that go on to Art College are not contaminated by the exponents of the Abstract genre.

The full results and galleries may be viewed here: Texaco Children’s Art


My 2018 Christmas present to myself!

Ever since I first encountered the wonderful work of transport artist David Briggs I have wanted to own one of his paintings but since the artist only works to commission there’s little chance of finding one in a gallery or auction. The only option was to get in line and commission a painting but of what – so many possibilities. My first love when it comes to Irish railways has always been the late lamented Tralee & Dingle Light Railway (1891 – 1953) in West Kerry.

Built on the cheap the line had some very severe curves and atrocious gradients. From the outset, the railway was beset by problems caused by the poorly engineered permanent way and the first of several serious accidents occurred less than two years after the line opened.

Surprisingly, despite being a major financial burden on the ratepayers of the areas which it served the railway continued to operate a full range of services until 1939 when passenger traffic ceased. The line remained open for freight traffic – largely livestock – until 1947 at which time the service was reduced to one day a month when special trains were run in conjunction with the Dingle cattle fair.

The track, rolling stock and locomotives were run into the ground in these last years and it speaks volumes for the train crews that operated the line that they were able to keep things going. David Briggs’ painting captures the atmosphere perfectly as a train of empty cattle wagons heads towards Dingle just west of Camp Village. There’s great detail in this late 1930s view; the locomotives are working hard on the 1:30 gradient, the crew can be seen trying to shout to each other above the noise; St.Mary’s Chapel in the background, the fields and luxuriant fuschia hedges set the scene.

Last Days on the Tralee & Dingle” acrylic on board (20″ x 30″).

I wasn’t born when the line closed but have visited the remains of the route many times. Now I will no longer have to trek to West Kerry to be reminded of this wonderful, mad bit of railway engineering. Not the first painting that I have commissioned but by far and away the most satisfying!

Kingstown Harbour circa 1830

I meant to post this up a while ago but as it was unsigned there was nowhere to put it. So, here it is now – enjoy. I never tire of views of Kingstown/Dun Laoghaire harbour and this is one of the most interesting that I’ve come across in ages – sadly out of my price bracket!

Described as Irish School circa 1830 – A convict ship and other shipping in Kingstown (now Dunlaoghaire) Harbour, Ireland. Inscribed on reverse with vessel names and other data Watercolour (11¾” x 18½”). Conservatively estimated at £500-800 it was eventually knocked down for £2,400 at Charles Miller Ltd., Fulham, London on the 7/11/2017.

One that got away….

The night of the 29th December, 1940, saw one of the largest and most destructive German air raids on London during World War.II. More than 24,000 high explosive bombs and 100,000 incendiary bombs were dropped on the city.

The destruction was enormous and by morning, the premises of the postcard publishers Raphael Tuck & Sons – Raphael House – was a burnt out shell along with much of the city. Records going back seventy-four years and 40,000 or more original pictures and photographs by the best of artists were in ashes.

Ironically, the firm of Raphael Tuck & Sons had been founded by German émigrés and prior to the outbreak of World War.I. had contracted the bulk of their printing business to German firms.

The first evidence that I’ve come across of a work that passed through the firm unscathed has recently come to light.

Robert Finlay McIntyre (1846-1906) a London artist supplied this 1892 view of “The Upper Lake, Killarney” to Tuck’s and the original turned up at auction at Fusco Auctions, Ohio on the 19/7/2017 where, despite its poor condition, it sold for $500.

Obviously Tuck’s didn’t retain all the work of those that supplied them and hopefully where there’s one, there’s more! Sadly though, I don’t expect to see a flood of similar paintings from the likes of Walter Hayward Young “Jotter”, Edgar Longstaffe and Alfred de Breanski.

More about Raphael Tuck & Sons here: Tuck Database