Ralph Lillford (1932-2019)

Soldiers in a Church, Belfast, (1972-3)

Oil on board

119.4cm x 96.5cm

On loan from the Council of the National Army Museum, London

Lillford was born in Hexthorpe, Yorkshire and, after National Service in the Army in the Suez Canal Zone, attended Doncaster School of Art and the Royal College of Art in 1954, where his teachers included John Minton and Carel Weight. He taught art at Barnes Secondary School, London and was a lecturer at Richmond College. He also lectured part-time at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal College of Art. His work is held in the Hermitage and Pushkin Museums in Russia, and the National Army Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and Imperial War Museum n London.

Partisan graffiti, murals and the street ‘furniture’ of army installations have long been a part of political conflict in Northern Ireland and Lillford brings these themes into his work. He visited Northern Ireland several times between 1971 and 1976 and witnessed the deteriorating situation first hand. His provocative work led him into trouble with both paramilitary organisations and the British Army – at one point he was arrested and had his paintings confiscated.