A portrait of the Rt Hon Ian Paisley MP, painted by Mark Shields joins the Parliamentary Art Collection at the House of Commons. It was commissioned by the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works and will join the contemporary hang in Portcullis House from 11 June 2009.
Ian Paisley MP, (b.1926) was educated at South Wales Bible College and later at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological College, Belfast. Dr Paisley has combined his significant political career with his role as church minister in Northern Ireland, where he was a founding member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. He was elected as Member for North Antrim in 1970 and founded the Democratic Unionist Party a year later. He continues to represent this constituency both as a UK Member of Parliament and as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. As the then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the largest single grouping in the 2007 elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly, he was elected First Minister on May 8, 2007.
On 4 March 2008 he announced that he would step down as First Minister and leader of the DUP and he is now the DUP Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Europe. This portrait was begun while he held the position of First Minister.
On sitting for his portrait Paisley commented;
‘Mark Shields made it easy for me as the sitter in that I felt he wanted to know me as opposed to what he thought he knew about me. He certainly put me at ease and I didn’t feel self-conscious nor was my time with him tedious.
As far as the finished product goes, I am more than pleased with it - I recognise myself! But, also and rightly so, I believe it serves to show the strength of Mark’s abilities and I am of course particularly delighted that he too is an Ulsterman!’
The artist-Mark Shields
Mark Shields studied fine art at the University of Ulster and lives and works near to Belfast. He has been painting professionally for over twenty years and has exhibited frequently in the UK and Ireland at venues including The Royal Academy, The National Portrait Gallery, The Royal Hibernian Academy and the Royal Ulster Academy. He has won a variety of awards including the BP Portrait Award. Previous portrait commissions have included Mary and Nicholas Robinson for the National Gallery of Ireland and H.R.H The Prince of Wales for the Headquarters of the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
On painting the portrait Shields said;
‘So familiar and so frequently stereotypically depicted a character as Ian Paisley presents the painter with the difficulty of both avoiding caricature and merely making a political-historical document and no more. The challenge is to delve more deeply into the inner life …..Essentially the great concern is to open a window on those less easily definable aspects of the human character and spirit with which we may all identify regardless of our own and the sitter's persuasions. Whether that has been achieved, time and the painted face alone will tell.’