John Kelly, Irish painter and printmaker, 1932-2006

Works Ashford Tribute Show

Some time after John’s death in March 2006, Mark St. John Ellis, then Curator of the Royal Hibernian Academy Ashford Gallery, suggested to the family that a small tribute exhibition be held in that Gallery, which he would curate. This seemed fitting, as John had been elected a member of the RHA in 1991 and sat on the Ashford Gallery programme committee from 2000 to 2004.

In 2008 Mark was given access to the database of the works which John’s daughter Caitriona had catalogued the previous year, and made his initial selection. These were all previously unseen works from John’s Henrietta Street studio. The series of six self portraits: “Drawings From the Heart Ward” (December 2003), John’s final creative works, and his last oil painting: “Still Life with Yukio” (2002), were also included, as was his etching “Song of Songs II”, as it was felt that an exhibition of John’s work would be incomplete without an example of his printmaking skills.

On Mark’s suggestion, a hardback catalogue was commissioned by the family; it was designed by Liam Furlong and contains images of the works in the exhibition, photographs of John’s family and colleagues and several essays.

The exhibition, which was delayed by the refurbishment of the Royal Hibernian Academy building and galleries in 2007/2008, ran from January 9th to January 29th 2009. It was opened by fellow-artist, Michael Kane, who paid tribute to John’s work and to his tireless advocacy for Irish Art and artists throughout the years. It was a memorable occasion for John’s family, friends and colleagues.

The exhibition was reviewed by Aidan Dunne in the Irish Times on January 14th 2009.

If you would like to purchase a copy of the Ashford Tribute Show catalogue, please get in touch with us via email ( to organise payment and delivery.