Joseph McWilliams

Visual Arts

Belfast painter, Joseph Mc Williams was educated in the Belfast College of Art and the Open University.

He was Senior Lecturer and Senior Course Tutor at the University of Ulster. He was President of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts.from 2000-2004. He and his painter wife Catherine are directors of The Cavehill Gallery, Belfast.

Mc Williams’ work has been exhibited in Ireland, Britain, Europe and the USA. He is represented in numerous collections, including: the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Ulster, the Ulster Museum, Coras Iompair Eireann, the Northern Ireland Civil Service Collection, AIB.Collection, and the National Self-Portrait Collection.

Mc Williams is a regular lecturer and Broadcaster on the Visual Arts in Northern Ireland and has been invited to speak on a number of occasions in Boston, USA and at the James Joyce School in Trieste and in Ljubljana Slovenia.

He is perhaps best known for his paintings of “The Troubles” evidenced in exhibitions such as, “Art for Society” Whitechapel Gallery London, “Documenta 6” Kassel,W. Germany, “A Troubled Journey 1966-1989” and “Colour on the March” both at the Cavehill Gallery Belfast.

“In 1969 when the North finally and inevitably exploded into violence, painting seemed a singularly inappropriate exercise. I remember one night at home working on a landscape while listening to gunfire from nearby Ardoyne and thinking what a ludicrous thing to be doing in the midst of communal madness. So I reacted simply and safely in paint.”
Joseph McWilliams, ‘A Troubled Journey’, 1989

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

1997 Colour on the March, Cavehill Gallery, Belfast

1989 A Troubled Journey 1966-1989, Cavehill Gallery

1982 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast

1980 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast

1977 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Dublin

1974 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast

Selected Group Exhibitions:

2013 Christmas Exhibition at Cavehill Gallery

2013 Royal Ulster Academy Exhibition at Ulster Museum

2011 Tears in Rain/Dheora san Fhearthainn: Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art. Golden Thread Gallery Belfast

2010 129th Royal Ulster Academy at the Ulster Museum

2010 Boyle Arts Festival, Co. Roscommon

2009 Tom Caldwell Gallery, 40th Anniversary

2009 Honet Seems Bitter, Strule Arts Centre, Omagh

Royal Ulster Academy

2008 “Innislacken; A place Apart” Galway Arts Centre

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

2006 Boyle , Festival, Boyle Co. Roscommon

2006 Northern Prepositions, An Gailerai, Falcarragh Co. Donegal

2005 The Nude Emer Gallery, Belfast

2002 The Public Eye 50 years of the Arts Council Collection

Ormeau Baths Gallery Belfast and the Context Gallery Derry.

2002 The Public Eye Political works from the Arts Council Collection

2001 Sidebyside, Nashville & Belfast.

2000 Basil Blackshaw & Friends, Boyle Arts Festival.

1997-98 Dreams and Traditions; 300 years of British and Irish painting from Ulster Museum Collection touring USA in conjunction with Smithsonian Institute, Washington.

1996—2005 Royal Ulster Academy

1994 Hunting Prizes Exhibition, RCA, London & Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea

1992 Royal Hibernian Academy

1988 Independent Artists against Repression, Dublin/Belfast

1988 Commissioned print Housing Executive, Belfast

1982 Contemporary Irish Painters, Northeastern University, Boston, USA

1978 Art for Society, Whitechapel Gallery, London

1977 Documenta 6, Kassel, W.Germany (with Joseph Beuys’ Free International University

1969 Irish Living Art, Dublin, Cork, Belfast

1966 Cuimhneachan 1916, Municipal Gallery, Dublin

Awards and Commissions:

2003 Awarded Gold Medal Royal Ulster Academy of Arts.

1996/90/89 Commissioned by the Blackstaff Press: Book covers

1995/1989 Award Arts Council of Northern Ireland

1995 Commissioned by Observer Newspaper:Belfast Festival at Queen’s painting

1994 Awarded Belfast Newsletter Prize for Painting at RUA

1995 Awarded Silver Medal RUA

1982 An Chomhairle Ealaion Travel Award to Boston USA

1964 Commissioned Mural 50ft x 60ft Church of St. Mary’s, Aghagallon, Co. Antrim

Selected Writings About Joseph McWilliams:

2000 RUA Diploma Collection, by Martin Anglesea, RUA Trust Ltd.

1997-98 Dreams & Traditions,300years of British and Irish Painting, Ulster Museum.

1999 “Colour on the March” Joseph Mc Williams. Essay; “A Mirror to his World. Dr. S. B. Kennedy.

1996 Thinking Long, by Liam Kelly, Gandon Press

1999 Genius of Ulster, Country Life, by James Knox

1989 Irishe Kunstler und der Nordirland-Konflikt; Metarbeit Robert Green for NDR German TV

1989 Joseph McWilliams – A Troubled Journey 1996-1989, Cavehill Gallery, Belfast

1982 Irish Style Elusive in a post-modernist world, by Robert Taylor, Boston Globe

1982 The Artist and the Troubles, article Seamus Deane, Field Day pamphlet

1977 Art in Ulster 2 by Mike Catto, Blackstaff Press


Ulster Museum

Arts Council of Northern Ireland

University of Ulster

Queen’s University, Belfast

Coras Iompar Éireann

Department of the Environment (NI)

National Self-Portrait Collection

AIB Collection Dublin

Civic Collection Boyle, Co. Roscommon