Carol Graham (b.1951)

Lamagan Choice

Oil on canvas

106cm x 156cm

Courtesy of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Carol Graham was born in Belfast in 1951 and moved to Ballymena in the early 60s. She was educated in Cambridge House Grammar School for Girls. Graham studied at the Belfast College of Art from 1970-74 taking a post-diploma course in 1975. In 1976 she was awarded an Arts Council bursary and a major award in 1980 followed by a one-person show at the Arts Council Gallery in 1981. In 1985, and again in 1996, she won the gold medal at the Royal Ulster Academy. In 2003, the Royal Ulster Academy elected Graham as President, an honour in Northern Ireland’s visual art world. She guided the academy through the museum’s difficult period of closure for refurbishment by very successfully arranging two academy annual exhibitions at the Ormeau Baths Gallery. In the 2000s she had a major Mid-Career Review solo exhibition. She is well known for her photo-realistic work and for her portraits. Among her portrait commissions have been James Galway for the Ulster Museum, Dixie Gilmore as Lord Mayor of Belfast for Belfast City Council, President Mary Robinson and golfer Christy O’Connor, Senior. Recently her work has become more abstract and personal.

This work is a representation of Slievelamagan in the Mournes, to the left is Crom Reservoir and to the right is Blue Lough. It has been painted in the evening light, when “the dog becomes the wolf”. The artist is interested in mountain landscapes for their physical quality but also for the spiritual associations. Graham notes “I had been intrigued with the way one track takes you partly up the mountain then disappears”. The area in the painting under-layered with gold aims to symbolise something of the mythic other world and stories of travellers disappearing into mountains, to return many years later. Mountain walking is a very personal pursuit for the artist, helping her through times of depression.