Derek Hill ( 6 December 1916 – 30 July 2000) was an English landscape and portrait artist, who first visited Tory Island in 1956. Derek returned many times over the intervening years, staying in a little hut in Ard Larthain, which was once a coastal signal station.
Derek’s former home and gardens are located close to the village of Churchill, and Glenveagh National Park. They were gifted to the Irish nation, together with a collection of over 1500 pieces of art.
You can travel on a virtual tour of Glebe House HERE A number of the Tory Island artist’s paintings are displayed in the kitchen.
The website also features some of Derek Hill’s vast art collection.
The approach to the hut at Ard Larthain
Derek Hill’s Painting Studio
The artist’s former painting studio is located on the north of Tory island, and is reached via a beautiful path. On my recent visit, I was completely alone at this scenic spot; I could see why he chose it for inspiration.
Some of his best known paintings feature the island, including Tory from Tor Mor, The End of Tory and Toraigh na dTonn…
I sat on this red bench admiring the scenery and feeling incredibly blessed.
Dun Bhaloir associated with the the legend of Balor of the evil Eye Balor na Suile Nimhe can be seen at the furthest and highest corner of the island.
The houses in the distance are located in East Town An Baile Thoir.
The Tory Island Artists
James Dixon (1887 – 1970) was among the first group of painters on the island. He impressed Derek Hill with his original work using household paints and other simple materials.
Inspired by Derek Hill, the group eventually expanded to include James brother Johny Dixon, Jimi Yank Rodgers, Ruari Sarah Rodgers and Patsy Dan Rodgers – the present King of Tory Island.
A second generation of island painters emerged later – Ruari L. Rodgers, Antoin Meenan, Michael F. Rodgers and Padraig Diver.
The website http://www.toryislandpaintings.com includes the work of Ruari L. Rodgers, Antoin Meenan, Patsy Dan Rodgers, Michael F. Rodgers and Padraig Diver plus a new generation of artists Majella Nic Ruaidhri, Daniel M. Cullen, Christina Nic Ruaidhri and Noreen Meenan.
Patsy Dan Rodgers is the only surviving member of the original artists.
Painting by Ruari L. Rodgers
Ruari L. Rodgers
Returning from my visit to Derek Hill’s painting retreat, I caught sight of a “Paintings for Sale” sign in a home beside the harbour.
I stopped to chat to artist Ruari L. Rodgers who later welcomed me inside to view his beautiful collection of paintings – mostly seascapes, including my favourite of wild seas around Tory harbour.
Ruari kindly allowed me to include a photograph of one of his landscapes. You can see more of his paintings on http://www.toryislandpaintings.com
Purchase several Tory Island paintings is now on my wishlist!
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Memoir: “Watching the Daisies – Life Lessons on the Importance of Slow” is available from Amazon and all good online book stores.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/r5GCjaetgZk