PORTADOWN-born Brian Eakin is next week opening a three-week exhibition of the Titanic paintings of the celebrated artist Jim McDonald at his Eakin Gallery on the Lisburn Road, Belfast.
Brian started his gallery at High Street in Portadown in 1979, as an addendum to the family jewellery business - his father is the respected Jack Eakin - and, after several exhibitions, was so successful that he and his wife Mary went full-time with their gallery in Belfast.
The McDonald exhibition will open next Thursday and will run until Saturday April 21, spanning the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the giant ship on the night of April 14-15, 1912.
Around 25 paintings will be on show, capturing the building of the ship at Harland and Wolff’s, scenes in the ‘steerage’ area of Titanic, and the opulence of the luxury cabins and dining rooms, where the well-heeled dined and danced - until she struck the iceberg in the North Atlantic.
Said Brian, “They really are magnificent paintings. Jim had a real ‘feel’ for the great ships of Belfast, having started at the age of 15 in 1954 as a fitter at Harland and Wolff, and then he qualified as a draughtsman in the diesel drawing office.”
After he retired, McDonald started to paint, and his canvasses are in collections in the US, Canada, France, Dubai, Australia, the UK and Ireland. Two of his Titanic paintings - they are in oils and mixed media - were chosen in 2007 for a limited edition of first class stamps by the Royal Mail.
The Eakins have hosted up to six exhibitions a year, with the likes of Armagh artist J.B. Vallely, Charles McAuley, Tom Carr, Louis le Brocquy and many others.
Brian worked in the family jewellery business for seven years, went out on the ’road’ as a rep for another seven and then opened the gallery.
Next Thursday is “wine from 7-9pm” and after that the exhibition will be open daily from 9.30am-5pm. More details on the website - www.eakingallery.co.uk - or phone 9066 8522.