Introduction

Colin Davidson is a contemporary artist, living and working near Belfast, Northern Ireland. Since graduating in 1991 from the University of Ulster with a first-class honours degree, he has structured his practice in themes, and since 2010 his focus has been on painting grand scale portraits, which have won widespread recognition and many international awards. As well as numerous commissions, Davidson’s portrait sitters have included Brad Pitt, Ed Sheeran, Liam Neeson, Brian Friel, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Christy Moore, Dame Mary Peters, Gary Lightbody, Marketa Irglova, Glen Hansard, Mark Knopfler and Seamus Heaney. His work is held in many public and corporate collections worldwide, including Queen’s University Belfast, the Ulster Museum (Belfast), Standard Life (London), the National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin), the Standard Chartered Bank of Asia, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington DC) and the National Portrait Gallery, (London). Davidson’s recent exhibition of portrait paintings, entitled ‘Silent Testimony’, reveals the stories of eighteen people who are connected by their individual experiences of loss through the Troubles - a turbulent 30-year period in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s onwards. This critically acclaimed body of work was on show at the Ulster Museum Belfast during 2015, before embarking on a tour which included the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, Dublin Castle and the United Nations NYC. In December 2015 he was commissioned by TIME Magazine to paint the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, for the cover for its ‘Person of the Year’ issue. In 2016 Colin Davidson was invited to paint an official portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II, which was unveiled later that year by The Queen in London. In 2019 his official portrait of President Bill Clinton was unveiled by the Past President in New York and in 2020 his portrait of Irish President Michael D Higgins was unveiled in Dublin.

Colin Davidson RUA

  • 1968 Born Belfast
  • 1980-87 Methodist College Belfast
  • 1987-91 Art & Design Faculty, University of Ulster, Belfast. First Class Honours Degree
  • 2003 Elected Associate Royal Ulster Academy
  • 2006 Elected Academician Royal Ulster Academy
  • 2012 Elected President Royal Ulster Academy
  • 2016 Honorary Degree (DSSc for distinction in art), Queen’s University Belfast
  • 2017 Elected Honorary Member Royal Society of Ulster Architects
  • 2021 Appointed Chancellor of Ulster University

Awards

  • 2019Fergus Ahern Award, Boyle
  • 2015US/Ireland Alliance Honor, Los Angeles
  • 2012University of Ulster Distinguished Graduate of the Year Award, Belfast
  • BP Portrait Visitors’ Choice Award, National Portrait Gallery, London
  • 2011Royal Ulster Academy, Gold Medal, Belfast
  • 2010Royal Hibernian Academy, The Ireland - US Council and Irish Arts
  • Review Portraiture Award, Dublin
  • Royal Ulster Academy, Gold Medal, Belfast
  • 2009Royal Hibernian Academy, Keating/McLoughlin Medal (ESB), Dublin
  • 2007Royal Ulster Academy, Caldwell Prize for Drawing, Belfast
  • 2004Royal Ulster Academy, Gold Medal, Belfast
  • 2002Royal Ulster Academy, Silver Medal, Belfast
  • 2001Royal Ulster Academy, Conor Prize, Belfast
  • 1997Royal Ulster Academy, Silver Medal, Belfast
  • 1994Communication Arts Award, California
  • ICAD Craft Award, Dublin Association of Illustrators, London
  • Winsor & Newton Gold Award, London
  • Creative Review Award, London

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2019'Silent Testimony', National Memorial Arboretum, UK
  • 2019‘Ed Sheeran - Portraits by Colin Davidson’, Ipswich
  • 2018 ‘Silent Testimony’, United Nations Headquarters, New York
  • 2018 ‘Silent Testimony’, Nerve Visual, Derry
  • 2017 ‘Silent Testimony’, Dublin Castle, Dublin
  • 2017 ‘Jerusalem’, Fitzroy Square, London
  • 2017 ‘Jerusalem’, 92nd Street Y, New York
  • 2016 ‘Reflected Gleams’, Irish Arts Center, New York
  • 2016 ‘Silent Testimony’, Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris
  • 2015 ‘Silent Testimony’, Ulster Museum, Belfast
  • 2013 ‘Between The Words’, Naughton Gallery, Queen’s University, Belfast
  • 2012 ‘Transmission’, Dublin
  • 2011 Lyric Theatre Belfast (ongoing)
  • 2009 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
  • 2007 Window Shopping’, Solomon Gallery, Dublin
  • 2006 ‘Inside/Out’, Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
  • 2005 Solomon Gallery, Dublin
  • 2004 Gallery Revel, New York
  • 2004 ‘No Continuing City’, Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
  • 2003 Solomon Gallery, Dublin
  • 2002 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
  • 2001 Gallery Revel, New York Solomon Gallery, Dublin
  • 2000 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
  • 1999 Solomon Gallery, Dublin
  • 1998 Straid Gallery, Co Antrim
  • 1997 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
  • 1993 BBC Belfast

Collections

Collections

  • Abbey Theatre, Dublin
  • Allied Irish Bank
  • Anglo Irish Bank
  • Arts Council of Northern Ireland Bar Library, Belfast
  • BTW Shiells, Belfast
  • British Broadcasting Corporation
  • Boyle Civic Collection
  • Cobra Golf, USA
  • Department of the Environment NI
  • Department of Finance and Personnel NI
  • Electricity Supply Board, Ireland
  • First Trust Bank
  • Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin (Interpol)
  • Hastings Hotels
  • Hilton Hotels
  • The Law Society of Ireland
  • Lyric Theatre, Belfast
  • National Gallery of Ireland
  • National Portrait Gallery, London
  • National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland
  • Northern Ireland Electricity
  • Office of Public Works, Ireland
  • Parliament Buildings Stormont
  • Queen's University, Belfast
  • Royal Victoria Hospital
  • Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC
  • Standard Chartered Bank of Asia
  • Standard Life UK
  • Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Berlin
  • Ulster Bank Group
  • Ulster Museum Belfast
  • Wexford County Council

Selected Portrait Sitters
(since 2010)

  • Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
  • President William Jefferson Clinton
  • President Michael D Higgins
  • Dame Mary Peters
  • Lord Kerr
  • Lord Bannside
  • Sir Kenneth Branagh
  • Professor Sir Peter Gregson
  • Michael Longley CBE
  • Simon Callow CBE
  • Barry Douglas OBE
  • Mark Knopfler OBE
  • Mark Carruthers OBE
  • Marie Jones OBE
  • Martin McGuinness
  • John Hume
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Paul Muldoon
  • Paddy Moloney
  • Christy Moore
  • Roddy Doyle
  • Thomas Kilroy
  • Tom MacIntyre
  • John Montague
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Brad Pitt
  • Liam Neeson
  • Glen Hansard
  • Ciaran Hinds
  • James Nesbitt
  • Neil Hannon
  • Conleth Hill
  • Gary Lightbody
  • Bill Whelan
  • Sinead Morrissey
  • Jennifer Johnston
  • Brian Friel
  • Brian Kennedy
  • Bronagh Gallagher
  • Basil Blackshaw
  • Gavin Friday
  • Lisa Hannigan
  • Paul Brady
  • Adrian Dunbar
  • Marketa Irglova
  • Eddie Irvine
  • Duke Special
  • Jamie Dornan
  • Oliver Jeffers