Chris Wilson was born in 1959 in Glengormley, Co. Antrim. He gained a B.A (Hons) Fine Art from Brighton Polytechnic in 1982 and an M.A Fine Art from the University of Ulster in 1985. His first exhibitions were in Belfast at the Crescent Art Centre (1985), the Fenderesky Gallery (1986) and the Project Arts Centre, Dublin (1987). He has received numerous awards including the Bass Ireland Arts Award in 1986, Arts Council of Northern Ireland awards (1987, 1991, 2002, 2004), British Council Awards (1992, 1993, 1997). For the last 30 years he has exhibited regularly having over 20 one person shows and participated in numerous group exhibitions in Ireland, the UK, Canada, Croatia, Germany, France, Bulgaria and USA.
In 2016 Wilson was awarded the RUA Gold Medal and the Paul Henry Landscape Prize at the 134th Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition. Wilson has exhibited widely throughout Ireland, UK, Germany and USA and his work is represented in many public and private collections including the Arts Council of England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Ireland; Translink, Belfast; Bombardier, Montreal; the Office of Public Works, Dublin; the Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin ; Irish Life, Dublin; McNamara Foundation, Maine, USA; British Telecom; Sport NI at the Tollymore National Outdoor Centre; University of Alabama and Queens University amongst others.
He has completed over 15 large scale public realm commissions including most recently “Gateway” (2015) at Centenary Quay, Southampton for Crest Nicholson; “Trading Place” (2014) in Newry, Co. Down ; “Timeline” (2013) Dungannon; “Horizons” (2011), for the Property Registration Authority, Roscommon; “Shorelines “(2011) at Jordanstown Loughshore Park; “Threads of Time” (2010) at Theatre Place, Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey and “Riverlines” at Toome Bypass commissioned by TIDAL in 2006.
The development of Chris Wilson’s recent works extends his interest in landscape from a contemporary view point. They are created through the application of successive layers of paint and drawn elements, each layer slightly obscured by the next. In places these hidden histories of marks are more visible, they indicate shifting patterns of roads and pathways, of field boundaries but they also reflect a timeline of rocks and strata below the surface indicating displacements, ruptures and folds. The surface becomes a canvas on which he draws lines, creates borders and boundaries. The multiple perspectives and changing viewpoints evident in these works indicate the continuously changing nature of the landscape and our place within it.
Wilson’s bronze sculptures represent a further exploration of landscape, also through the use of different scales and perspectives. While walking over a landscape he extracts small casts of rock surfaces and back in the studio these casts of cracks and fissures are reshaped and transformed into depictions of a much larger landscape through the simple inclusion of a small house or building; they aim to connect the immediate and the local, the ground on which he stands, to a larger more universal space, a larger sense of place.
“The layers of these landscapes, of folds and strata speak of cyclical time…ancient, they also speak of a shorter cycle of time, the small houses and buildings connect with human timeframes. The use of colour is restricted to a tonal range of soft greys through to deep black and as one reads across the surfaces of these paintings and follows the folds of strata….on the one hand you follow the folds of the weight of stone and this leads one to the folds of paper, one moves from enormous weight and depth to the fragility of paper. The small houses perched above or below, on the edge, or under this weight of stone and granite speak of fragility and vulnerability.” Dr Yvonne Scott, Director, TRIARC (Trinity College Irish Art Resource Centre) November 2014.