Surrounded by nature and rural communities, artists in Northern Ireland such as Colin Middleton, TP Flanagan and Basil Blackshaw continued breaking the traditions of landscape painting, using non-naturalistic colours or applying paint that emphasised their brushwork. The incorporation of mythological and poetic elements emphasises the Northern Ireland landscape as a place layered with history and meaning. For some artists, the increasing industrialisation of life and the resulting social inequality became an important subject. They developed new ways to document the dramatic changes they witnessed all around them.
When painting people, Neil Shawcross, Colin Davidson, Mark Shields and Gareth Reid represent the character and psychology of their subjects as well as their relationship to them. Their interest in the subjective and emotional, coupled with their desire to break with the traditions of the past, has led these artists to make innovations that have radically altered how we think of portraiture.