News and Current Exhibitions

National Gallery of Ireland

13 April – 7 July 2019
Beit Wing (Rooms 6-10)


Spanning 250 years, Shaping Ireland: Landscapes in Irish Art comprises artworks by fifty artists, exploring the relationship between people and the natural world. 

Encompassing a range of artistic media and perspectives, this exhibition examines different land types and uses, revealing the significant role artists have played in visualising aspects of human impact on the environment.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, featuring a selection of expert responses by individuals such as Paula Meehan (poet), Mary Reynolds (landscape designer), Duncan Stewart (environmentalist) and John Tuomey (architect), among others.     

Exhibition curator | Donal Maguire

lee tunnel cropped

 Lee Tunnel, 48 x 36 inches, oil on gesso panel,  1999, Collection of Cork County Council

I spent about 2 weeks making this painting in the Lee Tunnel before it opened in the summer of 1999. It was part of a commission to do 26 paintings for the centenary of Cork County Council. They had an open call and I proposed painting the people, machines and Roads of Cork County - I even mentioned Keating’s ESB paintings in the proposal - what an honour to end up right next to them now. So anyway I got the commission (amazingly lucky because I had only been painting seriously for a couple of years - and nothing on this scale) and I spent a year in a camper van going around the roads and council Yards painting on the spot. During all the paintings which were plein air from life I took a photo of anyone who talked to me. The third photo is various builders working in the Tunnel as they stopped to chat. The tunnel had little leaks at the time….and the contractor didn’t want me bringing my van in there so I had the big easel on wheels in the van and I’d roll it about a kilometre into the tunnel every morning. It was very quiet down there most of the time. Bizarre job really. 

Find out more about my work in Cork in 1999 over on my Instagram

lee tunnel painting photos

Zurich Portrait Prize in The National Gallery 

My portrait of "My Parents” was runner up in the 2018 Zurich Portrait Prize in the NGI. 

“My Parents”, oil on canvas, 100 x 70 cm, 2018

"Blaise Smith shows My Parents, a disarmingly tender portrait in which the grey-haired pair sit at either end of a wooden dining table with their laptops; his father concentrating, with shoulders hunched, his mother with her handbag resting at her feet.” -Cristin Leach in The Sunday times Culture Section, Sunday May 27th 2018

Sunday September 9th 2018


IAR cover

There is a feature in the summer 2017 edition of the Irish Arts Reviewn on Blaise Smith’s  portrait of eight scientists for the Royal irish Academy. The portrait won the Irish US Council/Irish Arts Review Portrait Award at the 187th RHA annual Exhibition. 

There is a 52 minute documentary about the project here:


See more here:

8 Scientists

The painting is currently on view in the Royal Irish Academy on Dawson Street, Dublin.

All text and images © Blaise Smith 2017