Olive Henry (1902-89)

The Lighthouse

Oil on card

25.5cm x 36 cm

From the collection of the Northern Ireland Civil Service

Born in Belfast in 1902, to George Adams Henry, a tea-merchant, Olive Henry was educated first at Mountpottinger National School and then at Victoria College, Belfast. While attending evening classes at Belfast School of Art, she became interested in working with stained-glass. Henry obtained a post as a stained-glass apprentice with a firm in Belfast, W F Clokey & Co, after her teacher recommended her for the post. She remained working there as a designer of stained-glass windows, until her retirement in 1972. In his 1977 book, Art in Ulster, John Hewitt stated that she was probably the only female stained-glass artist working at that time in Northern Ireland. Windows designed by Henry can be found throughout Northern Ireland, including a commission she undertook in 1968 at Sullivan Upper School in Holywood, county Down.

Aside from her stained-glass work, from the late 1920s Henry exhibited her paintings in Northern Ireland and further afield. Her work was shown by the Belfast Art Society, the Royal Ulster Academy, the Royal Hibernian Academy and the Ulster Museum to name but a few. She was also a keen photographer throughout her life and won several prizes for her photography.

In 1957, Henry assisted Gladys MacCabe to found the Ulster Society of Women Artists, this was at a time when no other art society in Northern Ireland accepted female applicants. The Society aimed to promote the development of quality art by female artists throughout Ulster. One of the ten original founding members, Henry was president from 1979-81 and exhibited with the Society for the rest of her career.

This work, Lighthouse, is held in the collection of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.