Hamilton Sloan


Hamilton Sloan was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1945, just after the end of the Second World War, and spent most of his early life in Comber, Co. Down where his Father was a shop-keeper Having been very un-academically minded, he left school at the first opportunity, and set out into life with a very carefree attitude indeed. His big passion at that time was playing the banjo, and any job he had was merely a method to fund the banjo playing. More than anything, he wanted a Paragon banjo, mainly because this was the banjo played by Barney McKenna of The Dubliners, who was his hero. Eventually in the late 1960ís, he did get the Paragon he craved by borrowing the money from his Father. He really loved this thing and most of his spare time was spent, practising and learning new tunes. A little room at the back of the house was his alone and here he played the banjo and also painted a little, which he discovered he was also reasonably good at. His first actual sale of a painting was to his Auntie Jean who paid around 10 shillings, 50 pence in todayís money! During his late teens, Hamilton Sloan went off to Iceland to work in the Fish Factories, complete with just a banjo and a change of clothes. He says his plan was to go there ,work hard, and return home with lots of money but sadly it didnít work out that way and he returned home with nothing so it was back to working at any job he could find for a while At this time, his interests expanded a little into Taxidermy. He was absolutely fascinated with the idea of taking a skin, from a bird or an animal, and setting this up again into a realistic pose. As this interest grew, he actually became quite proficient, so much so that when a position for the Taxidermist in the Ulster Museum became available, he was given the job and is very proud of the fact that a good few of the specimens still on show in the Ulster Museum are his work. The piece which gave him most satisfaction he says would have been the setting up of Peter, The Polar Bear, a project involving many sleepless nights but which nevertheless had a very successful outcomeDuring this time, Hamilton Sloan continued to develop his love of and skills in painting. It really didnít occur to him that it would be possible to paint as a career, and in fact, it was quite a few years before circumstances were such that he was able to take this step. In the late 1980ís he finally made the decision to paint professionally and acknowledges that he has been very fortunate in that, right from the outset, people were happy to buy his paintings Initially, he painted from his home in Comber and, for many years, he concentrated mostly on watercolour landscapes and is much admired for the delicacy of touch with which these were executed. This was his self proclaimed Watercolour Period! However, in 1998, he took the opportunity to live in the West of Ireland for four years. He moved to Gweedore, Co. Donegal, and the wonderful scenery and superb lighting has influenced his work tremendously. He acknowledges this was a wonderful opportunity for any painter and the light and the ruggedness of the landscape were truly inspiring to him. He also loved the fact that many of the old skills, such as turf-cutting and small scale farming, with just a few cattle or sheep, were still very much part of the way of life in this part of Ireland Previously he had always used a delicate palette in his watercolours but this seemed to him to be totally inadequate to capture the wildness of Donegal. His move to Donegal also therefore coincided with his experimentation in oils and, for a number of years now, he has produced paintings which have captured the essence of the area where he lived and worked with turf cutting, fishing and beach scenes being among the subjects which he has captured with a powerful authenticity. Hamilton Sloan says ďFor some time now I have been producing paintings inspired by the area around Gweedore, Co. Donegal. I have tried to capture on canvas some of the scenery, lighting and people of West DonegalĒ. As he thought initially, he has found oil paints to be much more appropriate for expressing the aesthetics and ambience of the landscapes and subject matter he was painting and so began the Oil-Painting Period Now, once again working and living on the East Coast of Ireland, Hamilton Sloan finds that he chooses to paint either in oils or watercolour as the mood takes him and he is equally proficient in both mediums. Whilst he has returned to Co. Down to live and paint, his love of Donegal continues to show in his work He still plays the banjo, with friends John and Matt, calling themselves U3, but you will not be able to find any of their music for sale as sadly no Recording Company has as yet offered them a contract ! Hamilton Sloan has exhibited successfully in major art galleries in Ireland, the UK and America. He also has works in the private collections of many of Irelandís best known people