Crawford Art Gallerypermanent collection

Early Morning Bahamas
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Early Morning Bahamas
Irish School
Acrylic and collage on board


From J. Mc Grath Bequest, 1998

Tony O'Malley
Irish School

Tony O'Malley was born in Callan, county Kilkenny. He is a self taught artist, having started painting while recovering from tuberculosis in the forties. He resumed his banking career in the fifties but retired in 1959. Like many creative Irish people, he found the pursuit of his art difficult in the stagnant, Church-dominated Ireland of the fifties. In 1960 he went to live in St Ives in Cornwall and stayed for thirty years, later visiting Ireland during the summers. He and his artist wife Jane returned to live in Kilkenny in 1990. He is Ireland's leading painter of the senior generation.

O'Malley's early work is figurative, but his interest in expressing inner worlds and the influence of St Ives, which he first visited in 1955, led him towards abstraction. His abstraction is not purely formal; he usually abstracts from some source, whether observed, remembered or imagined. His work is often very moody and atmospheric, particularly when based on a low tonal range of greys, blacks and lavenders. He has worked in the Bahamas and Lanzarote as well as in Ireland and Cornwall. He is deeply interested in place as marked by historical events, and though historical references are never explicit in the work, a sense of history often motivates his response to place.


Lit. - Fallon, 1984 / Fallon, 1992 / O'Regan, 1994 / Ryan, 1994