Joseph McWilliams PPRUA

Joe McWilliams was born in Belfast in 1938. He studied at the Belfast College of Art and at the Open University. Later he lectured in Art Education at the Ulster Polytechnic in Belfast and was Senior Lecturer and Senior Course Tutor at the University of Ulster. Since 1986 he and his wife, artist Catherine McWilliams have managed the Cave Hill Gallery, Belfast. He has had numerous solo exhibitions and has been represented in major Irish group shows both in Ireland and abroad; Recently his work was seen in an exhibition entitled 'Dreams and Traditions: 300 Years of British and Irish Painting' from the Ulster Museum Collection which toured the USA in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute, Washington. His work is held in numerous collections including: NI Arts Council, Queen's University, Coras Iompair Éireann, the Department of the Environment (NI), AIB, the National Self Portrait Collection of Ireland.

McWilliams was a regular lecturer and broadcaster on the Visual Arts in Northern Ireland and was invited to speak on the Arts a number of times in Boston, USA. He has also published articles and reviews on the subject. He wrote many scripts for BBC radio and presented, his own script "The Way that I Went" which was seen on BBC world services as well as locally and in Britain. His own work has been exhibited at a variety of venues in Ireland, Britain, Europe and the USA. He is perhaps best known for his paintings of 'The Troubles' evidenced in exhibitions such as 'Art for Society' Whitechapel Gallery, London; 'Documenta 6' Kassel, W.Germany; 'A Troubled Journey 1966-1989' and 'Colour on the March' both at the Cavehill Gallery, Belfast.

1938 Born Belfast
Educated Belfast College of Art, the Open University
1973 Lecturer in Art Education, Ulster Polytechnic, Belfast
1980 Senior Lecturer, Ulster Polytechnic
Senior Lecturer/Senior Course Tutor,University of Ulster
1986 Opened Cavehill Gallery with Catherine McWilliams
1994 Elected to Royal Ulster Academy
1989 Full-Time Painter and Director of Cavehill Gallery
2000 Elected President of Royal Ulster Academy of Arts
2000 Art Columnist, Irish News
2004 Retired from Presidency of RUA.

1997 Colour on the March, Cavehill Gallery, Belfast
1989 A Troubled Journey 1966-1989, Cavehill Gallery
1982 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
1980 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
1977 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Dublin
1974 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast

2021 Portrait of Northern Ireland: Neither an Elegy nor a Manifesto, Golden Thread Gallery, October 9th
2019 "Troubles Art" The Nerve Visual Gallery, Nerve Centre, Derry
2015 Royal Ulster Academy at Ulster Museum
2015 Boyle Arts Festival, 25th Anniversary Show - Conversations
2014 Art of the Troubles, Ulster Museum and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
2013 Royal Ulster Academy Exhibition at Ulster Museum
2013 Christmas Exhibition at Cavehill Gallery
2011 Tears in Rain/Dheora san Fhearthainn: Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art. Golden Thread Gallery Belfast
2010 129th Royal Ulster Academy at the Ulster Museum
2010 Boyle Arts Festival, Co. Roscommon
2009 Tom Caldwell Gallery, 40th Anniversary
2009 Honet Seems Bitter, Strule Arts Centre, Omagh
Royal Ulster Academy
2008 “Innislacken; A place Apart” Galway Arts Centre
2007 “A Northern Light” The Kenny Gallery, Galway Arts Festival.
2006 Boyle , Festival, Boyle Co. Roscommon
2006 Northern Prepositions, An Gailerai, Falcarragh Co. Donegal
2005 The Nude Emer Gallery, Belfast
2002 The Public Eye 50 years of the Arts Council Collection
Ormeau Baths Gallery Belfast and the Context Gallery Derry.
2002 The Public Eye Political works from the Arts Council
2001 Sidebyside, Nashville & Belfast.
2000 Basil Blackshaw & Friends, Boyle Arts Festival.
1997-98 Dreams and Traditions; 300 years of British and Irish
painting from Ulster Museum Collection touring USA in conjunction with Smithsonian Institute, Washington.
1996--2005 Royal Ulster Academy
1994 Hunting Prizes Exhibition, RCA, London & Glynn Vivian
Gallery, Swansea
1992 Royal Hibernian Academy
1988 Independent Artists against Repression, Dublin/Belfast
1988 Commissioned print Housing Executive, Belfast
1982 Contemporary Irish Painters, Northeastern University, Boston, USA
1978 Art for Society, Whitechapel Gallery, London
1977 Documenta 6, Kassel, W.Germany (with Joseph Beuys’ Free International University
1969 Irish Living Art, Dublin, Cork, Belfast
1966 Cuimhneachan 1916, Municipal Gallery, Dublin
2015 Posthumously Awarded The Irish News Award, Royal Ulster Academy, Ulster Museum
2003 Awarded Gold Medal Royal Ulster Academy of Arts.
1996/90/89 Commissioned by the Blackstaff Press: Book covers
1995/1989 Award Arts Council of Northern Ireland
1995 Commissioned by Observer Newspaper:Belfast Festival at Queen’s painting
1994 Awarded Belfast Newsletter Prize for Painting at RUA
1995 Awarded Silver Medal RUA
1982 An Chomhairle Ealaion Travel Award to Boston USA
1964 Commissioned Mural 50ft x 60ft Church of St. Mary’s,
Aghagallon, Co. Antrim

2017 Songs for the Dark Times, What the arts can do that politics cant Samantha Power, Faber & Faber
2000 RUA Diploma Collection, by Martin Anglesea, RUA Trust
1997-98 Dreams & Traditions,300years of British and Irish Painting, . Ulster Museum.
1999 “Colour on the March” Joseph Mc Williams. Essay; “A Mirror to his World. Dr. S. B. Kennedy.
1996 Thinking Long, by Liam Kelly, Gandon Press
1999 Genius of Ulster, Country Life, by James Knox
1989 Irishe Kunstler und der Nordirland-Konflikt;
Metarbeit Robert Green for NDR German TV
1989 Joseph McWilliams – A Troubled Journey 1996-1989, Cavehill Gallery, Belfast
1982 Irish Style Elusive in a post-modernist world, by Robert Taylor, Boston Globe
1982 The Artist and the Troubles, article Seamus Deane, Field
Day pamphlet
1977 Art in Ulster 2 by Mike Catto, Blackstaff Press


Ulster Museum
Arts Council of Northern Ireland
University of Ulster
Queen’s University, Belfast
Coras Iompar Éireann
Department of the Environment (NI)
National Self-Portrait Collection
AIB Collection Dublin
Civic Collection Boyle, Co. Roscommon