Brian Whelan

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Brian Whelan
A black and white picture of Brian Whelan
Brian Whelan, 2009
Born (1957-05-03) 3 May 1957 (age 60)
Ealing, London

Brian Whelan (born 3 May 1957) is an Irish painter[1][2] and author. He was born in Ealing, West London in the UK, of Irish Roman Catholic parents. His childhood was spent both in London and Ireland (Kilkenny Waterford and Dublin). After his training at the Royal Academy of Arts, he lived and worked for 30 years in various parts of Norfolk and Suffolk in England. Since 2013, he and his American wife Wendy Roseberry have lived in the historic village of Waterford, Virginia, USA, where they built a studio.

Whelan first came to the attention of the public and media (The Times, The Irish Times, The Tablet) in a fringe event connected to the Aldeburgh festival in 2000 with an exhibition entitled The Church Pub with co artist Andrew Smith. Whelan’s half of the exhibition went on to the Hammersmith Irish Art Centre in London where Whelan found a ready and more receptive audience for his blend of witty, non pious religious paintings. The exhibition then transferred to St Benedict's Abbey in Ealing London, where he found another enthusiastic audience.

Works and exhibitions[edit]

Norwich Cathedral in Norfolk England commissioned Whelan to paint 14 panels of the spiritual life and death of International Red Cross nurse Edith Cavell in 2014. The panels on which the scenes of The Passion of Edith Cavell were painted, were first exhibited at Washington National Cathedral in the USA to mark 100 years since the beginning of WW1.

"Execution of Edith Cavell" one of 14 paintings by Brian Whelan commissioned by Norwich Cathedral

The paintings later in the following year travelled to Brussels Roman Catholic Cathedral St Michael and St Gudula (close to Schaerbeek, where Edith Cavell was executed) before continuing its journey to Norfolk for permanent installation of the 14 panels at Norwich Cathedral to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Cavell's execution, in October 2015.[3].[4]

Washington National Cathedral invited Whelan to again exhibit in 2016.[5] Nine paintings on the subject of Holy City, a celebration of the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.[6] The installation placed in the north transept was to mark the 15th year since the 9/11 attacks. The paintings remained in the cathedral until after the 2017 presidential inauguration and multi-faith service at the Washington National Cathedral in the presence of an unimpressed Donald Trump.[citation needed]

"Holy City" painting by Whelan exhibited under north transept stained glass window for 15th anniversary of 9/11
A painting by Brian Whelan of St George and the Dragon (2010)

Whelan's painting The Martyrdom of St. Edmund permanently hangs in the Lady Chapel of St. Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St. Edmund, England.;[7] His images are used on the Shane MacGowan website; and the cover and contents of The Popes 2009 CD Outlaw Heaven and 2012 CD New Chuch as well as five releases from London Irish punk folker Anto Morra since 2013 until present day.

In addition to painting religious subjects, Whelan paints London—the city of his birth—using multiple perspectives and contradictory scales, bending, twisting, and organising the urban chaos into harmony.

In summer 2009, Whelan co-curated The Quiet Men – London Irish Painters, the first major international tour (UK, Spain and US) of contemporary London Irish art.[8] At the PM Gallery in Ealing, London Whelan first showed his large (2.7 m × 3.6 m) polyptych Transmetropolitan painting – an immigrants' joyride across the city of London and reference to the song of the same name by Shane MacGowen.In addition to Whelan's work, The Quiet Men tour included paintings by four other London Irish painters: Bernard Canavan, John Duffin, Dermot Holland and the late Daniel Carmody.[9] The book by the same name published by The Irish World Newspaper was launched in 2010 by the Irish Embassy in London.[10]


  1. ^ "About Brian Whelan". Brian Whelan. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Teather, Will (April–May 2010). "In The Frame: London". Green Pebble Magazine. Retrieved 18 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Passion of Edith Cavell - St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral, Brussels". Retrieved 17 November 2017. 
  4. ^ Digital, Centenary. "Edith Cavell Centenary - Remembrance at Norwich Cathedral". Retrieved 17 November 2017. 
  5. ^ Barnes, Jim (5 December 2016). "Waterford artist's work is on display at Washington National Cathedral". Retrieved 17 November 2017 – via 
  6. ^ "Reception and Reflections: Holy City - Washington National Cathedral". Retrieved 17 November 2017. 
  7. ^ Collins, Ian. "A king's saintly image redrawn," Eastern Daily Press, 15 Nov.
  8. ^ Donohoe, Victoria 'Immigrants' story at Villanova show' Philadelphia Inquirer 3 September 2009
  9. ^ Millar, Frank. "The Quiet Men." Irish Times, 17 March 2009
  10. ^ Roseberry, Wendy ed. London Irish Painting, Irish World Newspaper, London, 15 October 2010