Artist Nicola dies of cancer aged 51

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A former Portadown woman and acclaimed artist who had campaigned for life-extending cancer drugs to be made available in Northern Ireland has died at the age of 51.

Nicola Russell passed away last Monday at the Marie Curie Hospice in Belfast.

She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and after treatment, thought she had beaten it.

But the disease returned and she was told in 2013 that it had spread to her leg and lungs and was incurable via conventional treatment.

The Belfast-based artist specialised in portraits, equine and nature scenes, and her paintings are in private and public collections around the world, including those of the Queen and US president Bill Clinton.

One of her most famous works is a huge painting of Irish racehorse Istabraq, measuring 13ft x 10 ft, which she used scaffolding to paint.

In 2011, she sold a number of limited edition prints to raise money for the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

Speaking this time last year to the Portadown Times, she said, “I’m back painting again. I think when you give up, you stop living.”

She is survived by her long-term partner Kenny Boyd, parents Jill and George, sister Gail and brother Richard.