Gerry Adams to hang with key British figures in national portrait gallery
He may not have hung out with many British political figures, but a portrait of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams could soon be sharing a wall space with politicians such as Margaret Thatcher following the British National Portrait Gallery’s purchase of his portrait.
The London gallery yesterday confirmed it had purchased the painting by Cumbrian artist Conrad Atkinson.
The work, made with acrylic, watercolour and oil pastel, was created when the artist met Mr Adams in 2007 and 2008. Words taken from writings by hunger striker Bobby Sands are inscribed in the image.
It previously appeared in an exhibition in Belfast’s Grand Opera House.
The London gallery was founded in 1856 with the aim of using portraits to promote an appreciation and understanding of people who had made British history and culture.
It is said to hold the most extensive collection of portraits in the world and has many images of Lady Thatcher, as well as portraits of key political figures such as William Gladstone and royalty such as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles.
Mr Atkinson said the purchase of the painting was a “really good and important initiative” by the gallery.
“I think they are quite brave to do it. There may well be no controversy but there may well be.”
The artist has had a fractious relationship with the Ulster Museum following an incident in 1978 when museum attendants refused to hang one of his works, which commemorated the victims of Bloody Sunday.
A spokesman for the portrait gallery said the sale had just been approved so a date had not yet been set for its display. “It’s early days yet as it’s still going through the process of acquisition,” he said.