Ian Cumberland

Self portrait (2009) Rising artist Ian Cumberland discusses his work to date.

Banbridge-born Ian Cumberland is currently best known for his portrait of Allen McClay, the benefactor of Queen’s University’s new library, unveiled at its naming in early June. He came to prominence when his self-portrait won the 2009 Davy Portrait Award but remains modest about his work and achievements so far.

As he finished up at the University of Ulster’s Art College in 2006, the Arts Council bought an oil on canvas, the Mercy Seat, from his end of year exhibition. Showings of his work in Irish galleries followed, leading up to a display in London’s National Portrait Gallery last year.

Portraits and scenes of people in imagined situations are the main themes. He enjoys looking at portraits in general and finds that they brings out the viewer’s natural curiosity about the person pictured: “You cannot look at a portrait and not feel something about it.”

His own self-portrait is, in his words, modest, rough and honest – “not trying to hide anything”. Overall, he wants to do more work which is meaningful and purposeful. Although unassuming, he is being recognised near and far. Cumberland’s latest project is a commission for leading Turkish businessman Ömer Koç, which he is currently working on in Istanbul.


Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil (2008)

If looks could kill (2008)

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