John Luke (1906 - 1975) was born in Belfast and some of you, like me, have never heard of him until today. This talented modernist landscape artist, muralist, sculptor, printmaker and figurative painter worked in a shipyard before taking night classes at the Belfast School of Art. After winning a scholarship and a prize in the following year he went to London to study fine art painting, drawing and sculpture. During WWII he gave painting a break and retired to a cottage in Co. Armagh, making a living as an art teacher.
Luke spent his final years in poverty, misery and solitude in a flat in Belfast and died in 1975. Isn't it ironic that the highest price paid at auction for one of his paintings in 1999 was around £41,500? His artwork appear in several public and private collections from the Ulster Museum to the Queen's University in Belfast. This is my tribute to John Luke, one of the most brilliant Irish artists I've ever heard of.