Gerard Dillon was a landscape and figure painter born in Belfast. He was educated at Raglan Street Public Elementary School and the Christian Brothers School, but then left at the age of fourteen and became a house painter. After several years at this profession he went to the Belfast College of Art for only a few months. His independence took over and in 1934 he moved to London. Here his job varied whether it was a painter or a decorator but he tried to use all of his earnings to purchase art materials and visit galleries in order to teach himself.
In 1939, the war years had caused Dillon to return to Ireland and he ended up spending a lot of time in Connemara with George Campbell painting the landscape. Gerard’s first exhibition was at the Country Shop, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin and then in 1943 at the Contemporary Picture Galleries, Dublin, the Royal Hibernian Academy and at the Irish Exhibition of Living Art. He then travelled back to London when his work began to be exhibited worldwide.
James White wrote a book on Dillon and said, ‘it is hard to imagine that any other artist ever got more out of his art than Gerard did. Through it he discovered the full joy of creativity.’ Hanging in the National Gallery of Ireland is a self-portrait of Gerard as well as a landscape of the west of Ireland. When he died, the Arts Councils of Belfast and Dublin set up an exhibition with 104 works which consisted of oil, watercolour, collage, tapestry, mixed media and etching. His painting of the ‘Black Lake’ was also selected by the Irish Post Office for their fourth stamp.