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.

Northern Irish Artist (?) – B F Stuart

Came across some Rathlin Island postcards by this artist which were published by Baird & Co., Belfast circa 1905. I can’t find anything online – and I mean anything – and I wonder if anybody can point me in the right direction? Any information about the artist no matter how trivial would be welcomed.


On the trail of elusive Eva Porter!

Eva Porter exhibited regularly with the Belfast Art Society/ RUA from an address on the King’s Road, Knock, in Belfast. She was active from 1923 – 53 and worked mainly in watercolour, specialising in landscapes and garden scenes. She also supplied Scholastic Productions Ltd., Belfast with artwork for their postcards published during the 1940/50s.

sheep-lower-dpi  cottage headlands-eva-porter-rebuilt

Three Scholastic postcards “Springtime“, “An Old World Cottage” and “Headlands”.

That is the sum total of information that I have been able to dredge up on the artist after exhaustive searching online, contacting the various NI Arts bodies, Belfast Forums, the Linen Hall Library, and other obvious institutions. I have recently been in touch with the Knock Church of Ireland authorities in the hope that she may have been one of their parishioners and I’m awaiting further news.

I love collecting the work of lesser known artists and researching them, but ending up drawing a complete blank is very frustrating. I wouldn’t mind if it was just Eva Porter, but there’s a growing list of artists that I just can’t track down. These include Terence Henry, Leslie Murdoch, Pat Mac Cormack and Robert Barlow – the one thing they all have in common is that they supplied their work to Scholastic Productions, but that company went out of business in the 1950s.


A Country Road” which I purchased at Ross’s – August 2016 for £31.00 incl.buyer’s premium.

Thus far I have purchased a couple of her watercolours and several of the equally scarce postcards. A couple of weeks ago I thought that I had struck the mother lode when five of her paintings came up for sale at Rosebery’s (London), but it wasn’t to be. A lot of searching around and organising of a courier, contacting a UK dealer to make sure that they weren’t going to be bidding, contacting the auctioneers for additional photographs and I was all set. However, come the big day, and thirty minutes before the start of sale, I log into the auction portal and sign-up for the auction only to find out that as a new client of  Rosebery’s they would require bank/credit card details and more. I couldn’t comply with their requirements in time and lost the pictures to the only other bidder for just £140.00. It was the first time that I have encountered this problem when bidding through the and it will certainly be the last time that I bother with Rosebery’s.


Club Prize Day, Bangor, Co.Down” watercolour – sold with four others at Rosebery’s 1/10/2016 for £140.00!

Years ago this would have put me in a bad mood for a week, but these days I’m more laid back and tell myself that it wasn’t meant to be. Annoying, but a First World problem in the greater scheme of things!

So the search goes on and any help would be much appreciated.

A Painting for Waterford – Blaise Smith

In 1735/36 Waterford Corporation commissioned Dutch artist Willem Van der Hagen to paint a view of the city to be hung in City Hall. The resulting work (below) is one of the earliest surviving paintings of any Irish city and while some artistic license has been used it is considered to be an accurate depiction of the thriving Georgian city. The wonderful painting may be viewed at the Waterford Treasures at the Bishop’s Palace

Two-hundred and eighty years on and Irish artist Blaise Smith ARHA is working on “A Painting for Waterford” – a dramatic 5 metre panorama of the city of Waterford commissioned by the OPW, to act as a companion piece to the Willem Van der Hagen Waterford cityscape. Painted from the same general location as the earlier work there should be a few changes!

Both will be unveiled in Autumn 2016.

Below – check-out how the artist is tackling this daunting commission.