Titanic Artist Jim McDonald- Belfast Artist
Contemporary artist, Jim McDonald has taken inspiration from his predecessors, such as William Conor and his work. McDonald, a third generation shipyard worker, started his apprenticeship at Harland and Wolff at the age of 15 before becoming a fitter. He then took his draughtsman qualifications and worked in the diesel drawing offices. Throughout his time at Harland and Wolff, he was acutely aware that there was a silence surrounding Titanic where shipyard men were concerned.
“In all my years at the shipyard, Titanic was never mentioned" he says.
About nine years ago he decided to make Titanic his central focus. In doing so, he wanted to include images of the men who built the ships and the different trades involved.
“Most Titanic artists paint the ship sailing out of Belfast or Southampton but I wanted to concentrate on the workers” Jim says. “I held a small exhibition about eight years ago where I showed quite a large painting of Titanic, about 50 inches by 40. After that, people started asking me to paint Titanic and one commission would lead to another. I felt there needed to be more than just the ship at sea. There needed to be paintings of the laying of the keel, the ship’s launch and scenes from on board.” Jim’s work has progressed from watercolours and pastels to bold oil paintings which capture the hard, industrial nature of life in East Belfast.
At the moment, Jim is working night and day to complete one hundred paintings of Titanic in time for the centenary of her maiden voyage.
He says, “I want to show the splendour of the whole thing, the passengers on board, the dancing, the orchestra playing. I want to paint the Captain’s table, with guests such as Guggenheim and Astor sitting in their finery. I am trying to cover all aspects of the Titanic,” he says.
In 2008, Jim’s paintings of the Titanic and SS Nomadic were used by the Royal Mail as commemorative stamps and first day covers.
An exhibition of Jim’s work, including a large number of his Titanic paintings will be on display in the financial district of Toronto, Canada from 21st March. He is also hoping to display his work during public events at the commemorations of Titanic’s launch centenary in Belfast between March and the end of May.
View more information on the Jim McDonald website
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