Artist’s fondness for Seamus Heaney

Artist’s fondness for Seamus Heaney

4 September 2013

AN Ardglass artist who once painted Seamus Heaney has expressed his sadness over the passing of the great Irish poet.

William Mulhall had an unusual introduction to the Nobel Laureate several years ago after travelling to Dublin with his wife, Bernie, to visit the Apollo Gallery.

During the visit to the gallery it was suggested that Heaney would be a good subject for William’s unusual, but striking, style of painting.

Mr. Mulhall hailed a taxi and asked it to take the couple to his house where the door was answered by Heaney’s wife, Marie.

“I asked for five minutes of Seamus’ time and she said that against her better judgement she would let me in as she had dinner on.

“I spoke to Seamus for about one hour and my wife was taking pictures of him and I together. She took some great pictures and I used them as portraits and several other portraits since.

“If a portrait artist gets to know the model then they know them better,” said Mulhall.

“When you are with a person for a time you can see how they hold themselves and see their face gestures and the way they roll their eyes and express themselves.

“Basically I asked his permission to do his portraits and he said I could paint as many as I wanted.

“The portrait is a triptych, it’s three paintings on one canvas. I did a portrait, an abstract and a modern pop version of Seamus Heaney’s face. So it’s traditional, abstract and then modern pop art.

“When I met him afterwards he told people I was his portrait artist,” continued Mulhall.

“Seamus was just like a big friendly farmer, glad to see you and glad to talk to you. He was a real wordsmith and obviously he was gathering things from our exchanges, but I don’t think I appeared in any of his poems.

“It was a real pleasure to meet him and it was very memorable. He liked chatting,” he said.