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Heaney's Tribute To Basil's Earthy Works - Basil Blackshaw HRHA And Carolyn Mulholland RHA Reviewed By Ciara Ferguson In The Irish Independent

THERE IS something about Basil Blackshaw's paintings that makes you covet them, something that touches the core of childlike imagination and wonder.

Northern Irish artist Blackshaw is an original, one of our greatest painters whose personality and work, by extension, exudes integrity. He is a romantic in the high sense, whose understated brilliance is not measured by success in a fickle art world, though he has this, but by his own uncompromising standards.

His emotionally intense subjects are supremely self-contained, from Josie's Pony to Jack's House to a lone sheep, to mysterious nudes or mischievous angels. Incidentally, Jack is Basil's five-year-old step-grandchild whose drawings inspired part of this show.

Seamus Heaney , who opened the show at the Peppercanister Gallery, beautifully describes Blackshaw's work as the earth and its creatures, its game cocks and blood horses, its green sward and its glary sheughs, its imaginative writers and its sexual beauties, its lurchers and its loved ones all these things have been richly basilised, as it were, blackshawed into pigment, turned into an element that is as rich as the muddy banks of the Bann valley and as recognisable as Basil's own gleeful personality.''

In addition to those already mentioned, three glorious still lifes on board hang side by side and are painted with what look like musical notes or hieroglyphics.

Showing alongside Blackshaw is fellow Northern Irish artist Carolyn Mulholland. Mulholland's well-thought-out sculptures, mainly in bronze, have an idiosyncratic quality. An unusual four-foot bronze sprouting flower is reminiscent of the rarity of the cactus that flowers for a day, and her bold incongruous group of figures is also arresting.

* Basil Blackshaw HRHA and Carolyn Mulholland RHA show at the Peppercanister Gallery, 3 Herbert Street, Dublin 2, until July 15.