Somewhat perversely, the Second World War created conditions in which visual artists in Northern Ireland could flourish. The unprecedented influx of foreign troops and refugees brought many new cultural modes and traditions to the province, and the conflict’s attendant anxieties, uncertainties, and visual stimulants seem to have encouraged artists to experiment with form and composition to a greater degree than had previously been possible. This chapter scrutinizes the war paintings of three Belfast artists, Colin Middleton, Gerard Dillon, and William Conor, tracing the impact of Continental styles on art in Belfast and exploring porous distinctions between official and unofficial war art at this time.
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