Iveagh Cinema and Gilford Pigeon Club feature in Eddie’s exhibition

William Clark owner of Cafe Conor with Eddie Rafferty and his painting 'Russell' winner of the RUA Conor Prize for a figurative work in any media, sponsored by Conor Cafe. Picture Elaine Hill
William Clark owner of Cafe Conor with Eddie Rafferty and his painting 'Russell' winner of the RUA Conor Prize for a figurative work in any media, sponsored by Conor Cafe. Picture Elaine Hill

Award-winning Gilford artist Eddie Rafferty will take centre stage at the FE McWilliam Gallery and Studio in Banbridge later this month when a major exhibition of his work opens for the first time.

Eddie, who has received an esteemed Royal Ulster Academy award for his work among other accolades, is renowned for his eye-catching prints, drawings, paintings and collages which depict the people and places he has encountered at home and abroad – but particularly of his life and experiences in South Africa.

Rafferty’s striking images in this inaugural local exhibition will also include a series of colour lithographs which represent some of his earlier works, including depictions of Banbridge’s long-demolished Iveagh Cinema and Gilford Pigeon Club.

Now based in Banbridge, close to the FE McWilliam Gallery, Rafferty has built a strong, devoted following at home and abroad and his work has previously been enjoyed by art lovers in Belfast, Dublin and further afield.

FE McWilliam Gallery and Studio Curator, Dr Riann Coulter, said: “Eddie’s artistic output is as expansive as it is impressive. An artist that does not seek out attention, his works are compelling, colourful and unique.

“Although keenly influenced by art history, Eddie’s own experiences and his journey through life shine through in this fascinating body of work and I’m delighted that he is collaborating with us to prepare for what I know will be an enriching, thoughtful and enjoyable art experience for all our visitors.”

Rafferty, has an unconventional artistic background and his personal path has defined him. He was only 17 when respected photographer Victor Sloan – his teacher at Lurgan Technical College – included his early work in an exhibition at the local Peacock Gallery.

Some years later, he travelled to South Africa, taking up residency at the world famous artistic hub, the Bag Factory, in Johannesburg. His love of the country saw him return a further nine times and his works depicts his warm thoughts of the people and events around him, including those marginalised in society.

Eddie studied fine art at the University of Ulster and his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Represented in public art collections in Africa, the US, Australia and Europe, his exhibition at the FE McWilliam Gallery & Studio will be his first so close to home.

Supported by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Eddie Rafferty: The Pursuit of Happiness opens at the FE McWilliam Gallery on June 17 and runs until September 2.

For more details, visit www.femcwilliam.com.