Samuel Walsh was born in London, England to Irish parents in 1951. His mother was from Limerick and his father from Ennis, County Clare. He was educated in London and Limerick. He lived in Limerick from 1968 to 1990 and he now lives and works in County Clare.
After moving from London, he was educated at Villiers School, Limerick, where he sat the Irish Leaving Certificate. He has stated that he struggled academically and did not receive good marks. (He was inducted into the Villiers School Roll of Honour in 2012). After finishing secondary school, he studied at the Limerick School of Art and Design, Mary Immaculate College of Education, Limerick and the National College of Art & Design, Dublin.
He was awarded the Savills Art Prize at VUE Contemporary Art Fair, RHA Gallagher Gallery, Dublin in 2017 for an artist over 65 who has had a major exhibition of their work in the previous year, and who has also made an outstanding contribution to the visual arts in Ireland.
His first one-person show was in Limerick in 1978 and since then he has held one-person shows in Cork, Carlow, Ennis, Ennistymon, and Dublin with the Oliver Dowling Gallery, the Rubicon Gallery and Hillsboro Fine Art, and one-person shows in Switzerland and France. He is represented in Ireland by the Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin where he held his first solo show in 2014. His style has moved from an early interest in Minimalism to a combination of Post-minimalism and Lyrical Abstraction. He sees the blank canvas as a theatrical space and this is often reflected in the titles of his work such as Arena, Ambit, Enclave, Proscenium, Place, and Locus; all of which indicate a space where activity takes place. Since 2007 he has attempted to make paintings that combine elements of the two disciplines of drawing and painting in that each hold equal value within the composition. He has had two-person shows with Michael Fitzharris, Michael Warren, Liam Flynn (1969–2017) and Richard Gorman.
He has dealt with a variety of subject matter using an abstract visual language in his career: the Stations of The Cross ('Fourteen Points of Entry', 1991, now in the collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin), the encroachment of and into an individual's personal space ('Ambit' paintings, 2001–2002), his father's wartime experiences ('Airborne Drawings' 2002), interpretations of ancient classical art motifs ('Frieze' paintings and drawings 2006–2007). In November 2007 a major body of work by the artist based on 'The Divine Comedy' by Dante Alighieri opened at the Limerick City Gallery of Art. The "Inferno" section travelled to CIAC, Pont-Aven, Brittany, France in May 2008 and was shown in its entirety again at Triskel@ESB: Caroline St., Cork in January 2010. He showed new paintings at VISUAL, Carlow in September 2011 entitled: 'The Coercion of Substance' that subsequently travelled to the Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, Co Louth and the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, Co Donegal. He was included in 'From Edge to Edge: 100 Years of County Clare Art', in Glór, Ennis, Co Clare in 2016.
Walsh has exhibited his work in group exhibitions throughout Europe, the USA and Asia. He has been selected for all open submission exhibitions in Ireland in particular the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin annually since 1982 and eva, Limerick in the 1980s/90s. He first showed at the 246th Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 2014.
In 1997 he was elected a member of Aosdána, a body administered through the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon to recognise outstanding contributions by individuals to the creative arts in Ireland. He is a Fellow of the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Ballycastle, County Mayo.
He has been selected for international artist residencies in Switzerland in 1990, France in 1995 & 2002, the USA in 2009 in Berlin, Germany in 2012, 2015 & 2018 and Madrid in 2016.
His work is in collections in Ireland including the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Limerick City Gallery of Art, Crawford Gallery, Cork; the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, Trinity College, Dublin; Office of Public Works, Dublin; National Self-Portrait Collection, Limerick; University College, Cork; Leinster House, Dublin; County Collection, Ennis, County Clare; Dublin Dental School & Hospital, and in international collections in France, Croatia, Hungary, England & Switzerland.
He is one of only two Co Clare based artists with individual entries in the Royal Irish Academy/ Yale University Press, 'Art and Architecture of Ireland, Volume V, 20th Century Art and Artists'.
He taught drawing at the Limerick School of Art and Design from 1987 to 1997.In 2005 he was the Professor of Drawing for the Autumn semester at the Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art, Brittany, France. He has also been a visiting lecturer to this college and to the National College of Art & Design, Dublin and the Burren College of Art, County Clare. He lectured annually on the Drawing Studies course at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, from 2008 to 2010.
- National Collection of Contemporary Drawing – Limerick City Gallery of Art, limerick.ie. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
- Royal Hibernian Academy, royalhibernianacademy.ie. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
- Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2014, royalacademy.org.uk. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
- Aosdána – Samuel Walsh
- Samuel Walsh – Residencies
- National Self Portrait Collection of Ireland – W
- Samuel Walsh official website, samuelwalsh.com. Retrieved 12 September 2015.