Catherine McWilliams

Visual Arts

Catherine McWilliams was born in Belfast in 1940 and studied at the College of Art in the city. She was Head of Foundation Studies in Art at Rupert Stanley College until 1990.

She has exhibited as an artist since the 1960s and her work is held in a wide range of national and international collections.

“By 1970 “The Troubles” were upon us. I was living near and teaching in a girls’ School in the “Bone” area of North Belfast. Our Landscape was grey. I felt trapped in an oppressive and violent place. At the same time the girls in St. Gemmas School were even more trapped. Their homes were raided on a nightly basis; they would come to school tired and sad. The school was an oasis, an escape for them. I escaped into the glens of Antrim and into drawing.”
Catherine McWilliams

“Catherine McWilliams’paintings of women and girls from very similar areas relate more effectively to their immediate circumstances. She constantly shows these figures standing in doorways or looking out of windows. They are both involved In the troubles and observers of it, constantly at the point of decision between action and contemplation. It is a vision rooted in direct observation.McWilliams lives in one such area,and has taught in others. She sees the women living there as ‘the people who have to pick up the pieces left by the violence at the end of the day, keeping their families together’. “
Belinda Loftus, Circa Magazine, November 1981

Solo Exhibitions

2013 Gerard Dillon Gallery,Belfast

2011 Marketplace Gallery, Armagh

2010 Island Arts Centre

2006“Rooks & Other Birds” Clotworthy Arts Centre Antrim

2004Retrospective 1961-2004 Naughton Gallery @ Queen’s University, Belfast

1999 Collaborative exhibition with poet Tom Morgan, Sligo Art Gallery

1997/92/88 Cavehill Gallery Belfast

1981 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast

1978 Queen’s University Common room

Two-person Exhibitions

2000/’86 Cavehill Gallery, Belfast

1993 Hallward Gallery, Dublin

1983 Riverside Gallery, UU at Coleraine

1983 Peacock Gallery, Craigavon

1972 Octagon Gallery, Belfast

1971 Tom Caldwell Gallery

Selected Group Exhibitions

2014 Art of the Troubles - Ulster Museum, Belfast

2014 Royal Hibernian Academy 184th Annual Exhibition, Gallagher Gallery, Dublin

2012 - 1985 Royal Ulster Academy Exhibition at the Ulster Museum

2012-1986 Cavehill Gallery

2009 Tom Caldwell, 40th Anniversary Exhibition

2008 “Innislacken: A Place Apart” Galway Arts Centre and USA

2007 “A Northern Light” The Kenny Gallery, Galway Arts Festival

2006 “Northern Prepositions” An Gailerai, Fal Carragh, Co.Donegal

2006 Boyle Arts Festival, Co.Roscommon

2005 “Vis-onic, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast

2005 “The Nude” Emer Gallery, Belfast

2004 “Currents” Office of public Works & N.I. Civil service touring Ireland

2009-’85 Royal Ulster Academy, Belfast

2007/’92 Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin

2004-’94 Hallward Gallery, Dublin

2009-’86 Cavehill Gallery, Belfast

2003 Tom Caldwell memorial exhibition

2003-2000 The Discerning Eye, The Mall Galleries, London

2003 Kelly’s 28th Festival Art Exhibition, Rosslare

2001 Sidebyside, Nashville & Belfast

2001 The President’s Selection, R.U.A., Dyehouse Gallery, Waterford

2001 Spring Exhibition, BBC, Belfast

2001/’99 R.U.A. Ashford Gallery, RHA Gallagher Gallery, Dublin

2000 Basil Blackshaw & Friends, Boyle Arts Festival, Co-Roscommon

2000/1999 Millennium Images, Ireland & America, Washington, U.S.A

& Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

2000 Matisse’s Armchair, members of RUA at The Balance House, Co-Antrim

1999 R.U.A., The President’s Choice, Hillsboro Fine Art, Dublin

1997 Landscapes North & South, Touring Ireland & New York

1996 The Atrium Gallery, London

1995 Portobello Open, Tabernacle Gallery, London

1995/93 Iontas, Sligo, Dublin, Belfast

1994 Exhibition of 7, Model Arts Centre, Sligo

1994 Síolrú, RHA Gallagher Gallery, Dublin

1994 Gendered Narratives, Foyle Arts Centre, Derry

1994 N.I. Women’s Art; Festival Interceltique, Brittany

1989/87 Art beyond Barriers, WAAG Inagural exhibition, Kilmainham and Guinness Hop store,Dublin

1987 Identities, Art & Research Exchange, Belfast

1985/84 Pandora’s Box, Arnolfini, Bristol and touring Britain

1980 Listowel National Graphics Show

1979 An T-Oireachtas, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin

1976 N.I. Workshop: Joseph Beuys Free International University, Kassel, W.Germany

1975 Creative Women, Arts Council Gallery, Belfast

1966 Cuimhneachan 1916, Municipal Gallery, Dublin

Commissions and Book Covers

2007 Book Cover “John Hewitt, selected poems” pub. Blackstaff Press

2006 Book Cover “Ballintrillick by tom Morgan” pub. Lagan Press

1995 Unison Presidential commission

1995-91 Illustrations for

A Little Coffee Cookbook, Scottish Toasts and Graces &

A Little Book of Irish /Scottish /Bewley’s Baking Book

All published by Appletree Press, Belfast

1995/91 Book covers for Lagan Press & Community Relations Council

1990 Stations of the Cross, Loughguile, Co-Antrim

1989 Belfast is Buzzing, ACNI and Housing executive

1974 Mural, Belfast Banker’s Club


2003 General Arts scheme award, Arts Council of N.Ireland

1999 Arts Council of N.Ireland award for materials

1992 Arts Council of N.Ireland award for materials

1992 British Council Travel award

1992 An Chomhairle Ealaion travel award


Ulster Museum,

Haverty Trust,

National Self-Portrait Collection, Ireland,

Arts Council of N.Ireland,

Guardian Insurances, Ireland,

Ulster Television collections

BBC. N.Ireland,

Civil Service, N.Ireland,

Unison N.Ireland collection

Unison U.K.,


2006 “Rooks and other birds” Essay by S.B. Kennedy. Pub to accompany exhibition

2003 “A Retrospective 1961-2004”. Essay by S.B. Kennedy. Pub. to accompany exhibition

1997 Landscapes North and South, Art of the State; accompany exhibition

1996 Thinking Long; by Liam Kelly; Pub.Gandon editions, Kinsale

1994 Síolrú; Pub. To accompany exhibition

1990 Mirrors by Belinda Loftus; Pub Picture press, Co-Down

1989 Beyond Barriers; Pub.WAAG, Dublin to accompany exhibition

1987 Identities; Pub.ARE, Belfast to accompany exhibition

1984 Pandora’s Box; Pub. To accompany exhibition, Trefoil Books, London

1985-80 Articles by A.Davy-Orr, B.Loftus, S.Sverakova for Fortnight, Circa &

The Crane Bag