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Biographical Notes

Owen Walsh who was born in Westport Co Mayo in 1933, was educated at Blackrock College where his early talent in art was matched by some prowess on the rugby field. After leaving school he studied at the National College of Art, Dublin where he received major rewards for draughtsmanship, painting and composition. In 1954, he graduated from the NCAD and was awarded the MacAuley Fellowship. In the same year he held his first one man show and exhibited in the Royal Hibernian Academy. In 1955, he travelled to Spain, studying at the Bellas Artes in Madrid and went on to combine work and study in Toledo and Barcelona. In 1956 he moved to Venice and Ravenna in Italy to study mosaics.

Back in Ireland he co-founded the Independent Artists Exhibition, an avant garde movement of the younger artists set up in opposition to the then ultra conservative arts establishment. He was however more of a solitary follower of his muse and although he exhibited regularly and successfully over the years both in one man shows and at the Academy, he never joined any particular school or artistic clique. His work was characterised by the use of his bright vibrant colour which earned him the title of ‘Ireland’s greatest colourist’. The Post Impressionists and particularly the work of Matisse strongly influenced him as can be seen in the concentration throughout his life in figurative art, in which he excelled.

He spent most of his working life in Dublin and his beloved Mayo apart from brief sojourns in Paris in the 60’s where he received an award at the Exposition Internationale des Artes de Bel Fontaine, and Spoleto Italy in the 90’s. His home for 40 years was a shabby but spacious studio in Baggot Street where an old upright piano and vast collection of LPs and tapes gave witness to his great and abiding love of music.

Owen Walsh was married to Beryl and had 2 children: Ronan who has also become a talented artist, and Sharon. He died in June 2002 in the care of Eileen, his partner and friend for many years, their son Eoghan and his family in Westport.