Keith Drury (artist)

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Keith Drury
Keith Drury photo
Born1964 (age 54–55)
Newtownbreda, Belfast, Northern Ireland
ResidenceNorthern Ireland
EducationQueen's University Belfast (BSSc Hons.) + (BDiv)
Known forOil on Canvas & detailed, colourful 3D modelled cityscapes & landscapes
Notable work
Pele Portrait (2007), "London Way" presented to HRH Princess Anne (2016)
Spouse(s)Deborah Drury (Nee Egerton) m. 2007
AwardsWinner- International Public Commission, Belfast City Council (2010)
Patron(s)National Autistic Society (Ards and North Down Branch)

Keith Drury (born 1964) is a Northern Ireland artist initially known for oil paintings but is now renowned for vibrant cityscapes created by 3D modelling. Many of his early oil on canvas artworks featured leading political and religious leaders. Some were controversial and raised criticism, with the more contentious works gaining national media attention, particularly in the daily tabloids. Drury’s current 3D art style is vibrant, quirky and contemporary in its interpretation of urban landscapes.

Life and education[edit]

Keith Alan Drury was born in the Newtownbreda area of Belfast. Not encouraged to focus on art by his parents, as a child he drew cartoon characters. [1]

Keith’s elementary education was at Newtownbreda Primary School where he told his teacher he wanted to be a ‘Moon Man’ when he grew up. His secondary education was completed at Annadale Grammar School. [2] He was a member of Belfast Rowing Club while at school and ran marathons during his time as a student at Queen’s University Belfast. [2]

Drury’s artistic talent was spotted in 1985, aged 21, when he showed a prestigious Belfast gallery on the Ormeau Road one of his works. The gallery owner encouraged Drury to paint more and through critiques helped him to develop his style. [3] [4]

Drury went on to graduate from Queen's University Belfast with an Honours degree in Accountancy and Business (BSSc Hons.), before working at Shorts (later Bombardier) and in the National Health Service.[5] Returning to University (QUB), he graduated with a degree in Theology (BDiv) and became an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. During this period, Keith was Minister of May Street Church Belfast and served as a Board Member of Belfast City Centre Management, working closely with the Chamber of Commerce and Department for Regional Development. His vision was to build a ‘safe place’ in the city, catering for people from all backgrounds. After 19 years in ministry, he resigned to become a professional artist in 2009. [1] During this time, Drury combined art with graphic design and book publishing before his innovative 3D modelling style became successful and he was able to go full-time as an artist. [6]

Drury refers to himself as ‘vegetarian-light’ or ‘flexitarian’. [2] He usually finds six hours of sleep sufficient, creating many of his artworks in the early hours of the morning which he says tend to be his most creative time. [2]

The majority of Drury’s art is created at the Potting Shed Studio and Gallery (open to the public). The studio is located in a converted and unusual historic stone building complete with a late nineteenth century glasshouse, set within a Victorian walled garden and 60 acres of forest parkland in Crossgar, County Down. [2] [3] Drury currently resides in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with his wife Deborah and Harvey, their golden English cocker spaniel. [2] [3]


'Chuckle Brothers' - Paisley & McGuinness (oil on canvas)

Drury went professional as an artist in 2009. [7] [8] His early works were mainly oil on canvas and some featured controversial subjects, or included political and religious satire, often gaining much criticism.

One portrait showed DUP politician, Iris Robinson, wife of former First Minister of Northern Ireland in a 'Marilyn Monroe pose'. Another depicted Rev Dr Ian Paisley (also DUP) wearing an Irish Tricolour tie, alongside his opposite number, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, in a Union Flag tie (an image seen as offensive by some from both political allegiances). [7] [9]

In 2010 Drury exhibited an oil painting in the Marketplace Theatre and Arts Centre in Armagh which alluded to the child abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. It pictured Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, who was involved in an alleged cover-up, wearing a baby’s dummy (pacifier) instead of a crucifix. There were calls for the portrait to be removed from public display. Defending his work at the time, Drury told the press that although people could choose to take offence, the painting could be viewed in a variety of ways.[7]

Emerging style[edit]

"Norn Island" by Keith Drury

After the controversy, Drury moved away from oil on canvas and created a new style of artworks using 3D modelling. He used this technique to produce urban landscapes and cityscapes, featuring well-known local landmarks. He was told these digital creations would never catch on, but ignored repeated advice to return to oil painting. Instead Drury continued to develop his style which is intricate, brightly coloured and often includes controversial details, humorous elements and items of political satire.

Each picture can take up to three months to complete due to the complex modelling process and the high levels of detail included. Most of the scenes include a red telephone box, a red postbox and a clock which tells the same time. Drury deliberates for hours on inconsequential details such as a perforated brake disc on a Harley-Davidson motorbike. [3] “No-one else will notice if I get it right, but it’s important to me. I may play around with time and scale, but I like details to be correct. That’s what I love about this type of art - it’s creative, but it’s also clean and precise.”[3] His motto, ‘Why dream in black and white when you can dream in colour?’ [2] is reflected in the vibrant colours which permeate his work.

Many British towns and cities are featured in the artworks including: Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Belfast and Armagh, as well as international cities such as: London, Paris, New York, Dublin and Melbourne. [10][11][12]

Commissioned artworks[edit]

"London Way" (Limited Edition Print)

Drury presented an oil painting to Mary McAleese (then President of Ireland) in 2005 at a private dinner at her official state residence Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin. [13][12]

In 2007, Drury was commissioned by Irish author and film/documentary-maker, Don Mullan, to paint a portrait of Brazilian footballer Pele. Drury personally presented the completed oil painting to Pele at a Pele Pequeno Principe Research Institute event he was hosting in Dublin.[3][12]

Drury was commissioned to create a portrait of the newly inaugurated 44th US president Barack Obama in 2009 (mixed media on canvas). It was presented to The President’s Club Charitable Trust in Belfast on the day of the US presidential inauguration. [14] Later the same year Drury travelled to Southampton to meet 97 year old Millvina Dean, the youngest passenger and last remaining survivor of the RMS Titanic disaster. He was the last person to officially interview her as she died a few days later. [15] [16][12]

Drury won an international competition in 2010 to produce a public commission artwork for Belfast City Council. The completed work is a collection of portraits (mixed media on canvas) interpreting the Irish history and heritage of Belfast. The piece’s Irish title is: ‘Ar scath a cheile a mhaireas na daoine’ (‘It is in the shelter of each other that people live’). Five prominent Belfast Irish cultural revivalists are featured: Edward Bunting 1773-1843 (musician and collector of Irish folk music); John McKay 1852-1923 (Founding Secretary of the Gaelic Athletic Association); Alice Milligan 1866-1953 (poet, writer and playwright); Anna McCoy 1925- present (celebrated international Irish dancer) and Sean Maguire 1927-2005 (internationally renowned Irish fiddler). This mixed media artwork is on permanent public display as part of the city's art collection at Belfast City Hall. [3][12]

The National Trust commissioned Drury to create a bespoke artwork to celebrate a music festival featuring Van Morrison at Castle Ward Estate in 2013. [17]

Another artwork, 'Holywood Boulevard', appeared in the BBC drama The Fall (TV series) with Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson [18] Drury’s colourful prints have also featured as part of a backdrop in a scene in the popular BBC crime series ‘Line of Duty’ (2019). His political satire ‘Stormont Circus’ is due to feature in the ITV production ‘Marcella’ with Anna Friel currently scheduled for broadcast later this year.

In 2016, the limited edition print ‘London Way’ was presented to HRH Princess Anne at a special reception in Buckingham Palace in London. [3] [12]

'Holywood Boulevard'

A number of significant corporate art commissions were completed in 2018. In June, MJM Marine commissioned a special artwork to celebrate the launch of their £50m global contract to refurbish the Azamara Pursuit cruise ship. This unique artwork, which featured a model of the new ship, was personally presented by Drury to Miami-based Larry Pimentel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises and founder of the SeaDream Yacht Club, at the Titanic Hotel in Belfast.

Danske Bank commissioned an artwork in September 2018 to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of their major client Almac Group which provides a range of drug development services to the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors globally. A special island was created by Keith and added to the ‘Norn Island’ artwork to showcase the growth of Almac who now have facilities across the U.K., Europe and Asia.

To celebrate the opening of The Grand Central Hotel in Belfast, Bunzl McLaughlin (part of Bunzl plc) presented Drury’s 'Up the Farset' artwork to the Hastings Hotel Group with special aspects customised to highlight the Hastings Group's seven hotels located across Northern Ireland.

Keith said, “It was a privilege to receive these corporate commissions which celebrate the enormous success and global achievements of companies which have originated in Northern Ireland.”

Philanthropic activity[edit]

Keith, along with his wife Deborah (a former teacher) and staff member, Matthew McComb, a games developer with Asperger syndrome, are involved in a doctoral research project with Queen's University Belfast. [3]

They are developing a virtual reality (VR) programme using specially created scenes in 3D form to help children with autism. The project aims to create a game-based activity in a virtual environment to investigate ‘Preference for Sameness’ amongst autistic children and will endeavour to help them to learn coping mechanisms to deal better with the unexpected. [3]

Drury is a Patron of the National Autistic Society (NAS) for their Newtownards branch in County Down.

Drury is a Patron of the National Autistic Society in Northern Ireland


  1. ^ a b "Minister Turns To Art". Belfast Telegraph Newspaper. 29 August 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Bell, Gail (21 November 2018). "Keith Drury: Radical With My Diet". Irish News. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bell, Gail (14 July 2018). "Step Right In". Irish News Newspaper. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  4. ^ Canning, Margaret (1 September 2009). "Painting On A New Canvas". Irish Times Newspaper. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  5. ^ Canning, Margaret (1 September 2009). "Painting On A New Canvas". Irish Times Newspaper. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  6. ^ Canning, Margaret (1 September 2009). "Painting On A New Canvas". Irish Times Newspaper. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "Outcry over Dummy in Brady Painting". UTV News (ITV). 20 September 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  8. ^ Canning, Margaret (1 September 2009). "Painting On A New Canvas". Irish Times Newspaper. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Row over Paisley / McGuinness Painting". Belfast Telegraph Newspaper. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  10. ^ White, Laurence (5 December 2015). "Digital - my happy medium". Belfast Telegraph Newspaper. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  11. ^ Samuelson, Kate (10 January 2016). "Artist's pictures of Liverpool". Liverpool Echo Newspaper. Reach (UK Newspapers) Plc. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Artwork brings Carrickfergus to life". Belfast News Letter. 19 August 2018. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  13. ^ "Keith Drury Meets Mary McAleese". Getty Images. October 2005. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  14. ^ Morton, Robin (February 2009). "Urban Faith Magazine" (PDF). Presbyterian Church. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  15. ^ Grattan, Gary (22 March 2012). "Titanic survivor Millvina Dean". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Millvina Dean". Encyclopedia Titanica. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  17. ^ Masson, Jim (6 May 2013). "National Trust Commission Keith Drury Artwork". Down News. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  18. ^ King, Ray (30 July 2018). "I Love Manchester". I Love Manchester Online News. Retrieved 13 August 2018.

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