Maurice Canning Wilks was a landscape and portrait painter born in Belfast and his father was a linen designer. He was educated at Malone Public School and then at Belfast College of Art. When Wilks was only nineteen, he exhibited for the first time at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, and then went on to exhibit his work in London, Montreal, Boston and Toronto, many of which were solo exhibitions. Later on in his life he was elected an associate member of the RHA and a full member of the Royal Ulster Academy.
Wilks was very much inspired by the work of James Humbert Craig and his own portrait of Craig is in Bangor Town Hall.
Maurice’s subject matter is all over Ireland but he was particularly keen on Donegal and the West of Ireland. However, he was also a very successful portrait painter who flourished in commissioned portraits. Towards the later years of his life, Wilks had a studio in Dublin, which inspired him to paint many everyday scenes of Dublin. His belief was, ‘hard work and regular hours’. Today we can see his artwork in the Ulster Museum, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and many others.