Willie Heron (b.1953)

Ark (2017)


21.5cm x 34.5cm x 10.5cm

Courtesy of the artist

Willie Heron was born in 1953 in Newtownards, Co Down. After serving a four-year apprenticeship in naval architecture at Harland & Wolff Shipyard, Belfast, an interest in art lead him to re-direct his career path. From 1975 to 1976 he studied Foundation Art at the Ulster Polytechnic followed by a B.A. in Fine Art at Wolverhampton from 1976 to 1979.

In the summer of 1978 Heron took part in the Edinburgh Arts Journey supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. This proved influential, leading to his first exhibition in a group show at the Fruit Market gallery in Edinburgh curated by Richard Demarco. He was then selected to take part in Hibernian Inscape at the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin in 1980, curated by international art critic Paul Overy. In 1982 he won the Graphics Prize at EV+A in Limerick with ‘Object No 9’. A four-person show at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in Belfast and also at the Irish Exhibition of Living Art was followed by a solo exhibition at Art and Research Exchange, Belfast in 1983. Since then, Heron has continued to exhibit with the Fenderesky Gallery in Belfast and is also a member of the Royal Ulster Academy.

Heron works with found wood, repurposing the debris and offcuts from other sources, reimagining the cast aside and altering the unneeded which has been thrown away or washed up. He looks again at the history of these materials and imbues them with new meaning. This is quite often reflected in the titles of his work which provides the first clue into his intention.

This piece, entitled Ark was made from a piece of found wood. It had been partially carved on one side and shaped almost spade-like. The artist states that “after having this piece for some time, I finally cut it into smaller parts reassembling it into a new form.” Ark invokes present day environmental issues that have continued to influence Heron’s art practice.