Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Jim Flack Artist

Through his paintings he brought to us a keen awareness of the Irish countryside. Whether it was the weather-beaten landscape of the west of Ireland or the more benign landscape of his adopted County Kildare Jim Flack’s water colours captured the everchanging mood of the Irish countryside. His recent death has deprived us of a wonderful artist whose sensitive interpretation of water colours proved itself time and time again. Sadly, Jim’s brushes had been set aside for the past eight years following an illness which rendered him bedridden. His loss to Irish art will be keenly felt by his colleagues in the Water Colour Society of Ireland and by the many people who over the years recognised and acknowledged the importance of his artistic work. It was Jim himself who speaking of his work referred to the Irish countryside as a painter’s paradise and claimed, ‘when I paint I hope to share with the viewers the emotions I experience as I gaze at this rich countryside which provides me with my raw material.’ He enjoyed painting trees which he felt symbolised and reflected the ambience of the different regions of our islands from the bent twisted trees of the West of Ireland shaped by Atlantic gales to the lofty noble trees of the midlands. Jim and his wife Marlynne came to Athy in 1972 when Jim was appointed Minister to the Presbyterian communities of Athy and Naas and took up residence in the Manse on the Dublin Road. A native of Co. Armagh Jim from an early age was engaged in painting and at 10 years of age was one of the youngsters whose paintings were chosen for display in the children’s exhibition which was a feature of the 1951 Festival of Britain. Jim retired from his ministry in the Presbyterian Church in or about 1990 and thereafter devoted himself full time to painting and to teaching art. He was for a time art teacher in the local Vocational school on the Carlow Road and on giving up that post in 1981 was replaced by another highly rated artist, Mary Cunningham. I believe I first came across Jim’s work at Athy’s annual art exhibition at a time when Mark O’Neill, Elizabeth Cope, Senan O’Brien and the earlier mentioned Mary Cunningham were regular exhibitors. Jim’s first solo exhibition took place in 1971 in Fermoy where he was then living. A few years were to pass before he embarked on a breath-taking exhibition journey which over the years saw solo exhibitions in Belfast, Dublin, Kilkenny, Kilcock, Carlow, Killarney, Newry, Mullingar, Athy and Mount Morris, Co. Armagh. To those Irish venues were to be added solo exhibitions as far away as Washington D.C., San Antonio, Texas and Canadian venues in Montreal, Winnipeg and London Ontario. Jim’s talent was acknowledged and recognised with showings in the Royal Irish Academy and the annual exhibition of the Water Colour Society of Ireland as well as that of the Ulster Water Colour Society. The inspiration he drew from the scenic beauty of the West of Ireland inevitably made him a regular solo exhibitor in Kenny’s Art Gallery in Galway and from 1982 onwards his Galway exhibition was one of the highlights of the art scene in that region. I knew Jim Flack as an artist and as a member of our local community and it was in that latter role that he showed his kind, gentle and ever courteous self. These were traits which he displayed in abundance and were complemented by similar qualities in his wife Marlynne whom he met when he was ministering in Fermoy, Co. Cork. Marlynne, who before her marriage to Jim was a nurse, was loyally devoted to him and during his prolonged illness provided loving and constant attention for her life’s companion. The Presbyterian Church was full to capacity for Tuesday’s funeral service for Jim Flack and the short journey was made afterwards to St. Michael’s Cemetery for the burial of a man who has left us with a wonderful artistic legacy. Our sympathies are extended to Jim’s wife Marlynne, their son Stephen and extended family.

No comments: