Colin Middleton

Protean and multi-faceted surrealist painter

Colin Middleton was born at Victoria Gardens, Belfast, in January 1910. Educated at Belfast Royal Academy and as an apprentice damask designer at Belfast College of Art, he was acknowledged as an important Irish artist in his twenties. In 1934, he became part of the Ulster Unit group of ‘avowedly and demonstrably modern’ artists from the north of Ireland alongside Romeo C Toogood, John Luke and George MacCann.

Middleton’s first solo exhibition at the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery took place in 1943, curated by his friend and secretary of the Ulster Unit John Hewitt. Hewitt was to write of Middleton’s ‘protean quality’ and called him ‘the most various and imaginatively endowed of Irish painters, past or present.’

Middleton’s first wife Maye McLain died in 1939 after four years of marriage. He married Kathleen Giddens in 1945, and after a brief experiment with communal living in England the family made their home in Ardglass, Co Down, in 1947. Middleton taught art for 16 years from 1954, first part time at Belfast College of Art, then at Coleraine Technical College and Friends’ School, Lisburn.

Colin Middleton died in December 1983. Museums and galleries throughout Ireland and further a field hold examples of his work.

Further reading:
Dictionary of Twentieth Century Irish Artists (2002) by Theo Snoddy; MAGNI drawings, paintings and sculptures: the catalogue (2000) edited by Eileen Black; Colin Middleton (1975) by John Hewitt; Causeway: the arts in Ulster (1971) edited by Michael Longley; The Arts in Ulster (1951) edited by Sam Hanna Bell, John Hewitt and Nesca Robb.