Inismor Aran Islands JOHN SKELTON ARTIST (1925 -2009 ) started his professional career in London, where he came under influence of Euston Road School in the late 1940s.
He worked initially in advertising as Art Director and illustrator of books, most of them educational. After 1975 he worked full-time as a painter. He had numerous one man shows in Dublin; two in Belfast, one in Los Angeles and one in the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut.
Up to the late 1980s, John was frequent exhibitor in group shows, particularly the annual Royal Hibernian Academy and the Watercolour Society shows in Dublin. During the 1970s and earlier 1980s he earned a reputation as a gifted teacher and lecturer in the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.
In John’s own words:
“From a very early age, when I could recognize the need to draw and paint, I determined to achieve skills which would bring me beyond the difficulties of technique. This would allow me to perform and improvise in my paintings like a good jazz musician.
I felt that a painting was not just a mirror image of the world, but existed parallel to it – working in somewhat the same way as a biblical parable. I discovered that pictorial energy was the result of the tension of image in opposition: in a landscape, for example, the counterpoint between the rhythm of stormy skies and solid undulating earth. These things become visible only when you look for them. When you do, you find they surrender up a painting without effort. That, I feel, is secret. Painting is visible music and can only work when, as the poet Patrick Kavanagh put it,”… you wait in the unconscious room of the heart for god to find you”.
I was drawn to paint certain subjects again and again, as you can clearly see in this exhibition: big endless theatre of the seasons. In recent years I have devoted more time to portraits, almost all of these made under the impartial embrace of natural light.
I’m eternally thankful to have been given the means and desire, to record this treasure house of a world. I am more interested in single moments than in stories; my aim is to set down a vision, without a narrative to convey or an axe to grind. In this way I hope to convey a sense of the world which, while deeply personal, will also be recognized and understood.”
Born in Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1925 John died in Dublin on November 21st 2009
Queens University, Belfast, , Northern Ireland
Belfast College of Art, Belfast, Northern Ireland
St. Martins School of Art , London, United Kingdom
Selected Public Collections
Bank of Ireland
Embassy of Korea