John Kindness

The maker of the ’Big Fish’ is one of Northern Ireland’s best-known artists

John Kindness was born in Belfast in 1951. He has had solo exhibitions in the Ulster Museum, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Art in General, New York and Third Eye Centre, Glasgow.

His work has been is included in many private and public collections including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the AIB. Kindness’ work for Belfast’s public spaces includes Big Fish at Donegall Quay in Belfast (1999) and Waterfall of Souvenirs at the Ulsterbus Station in Glengall Street, Belfast (1991).

He has experimented with a variety of materials such as glass mosaic, encaustic wax and eggshells. His humorous visual commentaries have made him one of Northern Ireland’s best known artists, continually reinventing tradition. Hermes, one of the Treasures of New York series commenting on the artist's time in that city in 1989 and 1990, show the Greek messenger of the gods on an exercise machine, determined to go somewhere – a wry take on cultural exchange, appropriation and consumerism.

A Monkey Town besieged by Dogs, from what might be considered the artist’s manifesto exhibition in the Grapevine Arts Centre, Dublin in 1985–6, pulled together many of the artist’s sources, references and strategies in use up to that time: popular comics and cartoons, humour, bestiality and cultural politics, satire and contradiction.

John Kindness now lives and works in Tullow, Co Carlow.