London party

John Hume’s official portrait unveiled at Westminster

An official portrait of the late Nobel laureate John Hume will be unveiled in Westminster.

The portrait was commissioned by the President’s Artwork Advisory Committee.

Painted by critically acclaimed Northern Irish artist Colin Davidson, the portrait of the former MP for Foyle will hang in Portcullis House, one of the busiest buildings on the parliamentary estate, and marks the contribution of the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize winner during his 22 years as an MP for Westminster.

Painted over several weeks in Davidson’s studio in Northern Ireland, it is based on sketches the artist made during sittings with Mr Hume in 2016 – four years before his death.

First elected in the constituency of Foyle in 1983, Mr Hume was a leading figure in the Northern Irish civil rights movement.

He was the leader of the SDLP from 1979 to 2001 and one of the main architects of the peace process.

In 1998, he received the Nobel Peace Prize alongside David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Supported by his wife Pat, Mr. Hume’s work has won him support from across the political spectrum, both at home and abroad.

Following a proposal by SDLP MP for Belfast South, Claire Hanna, the Speaker’s Artwork Advisory Committee agreed to commission the portrait as a permanent addition to the Parliamentary Art Collection to recognize the role importance of Mr. Hume in promoting peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. , Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

SDLP leader John Hume with his wife Pat after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in the Northern Ireland peace process (PA)

Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: “John Hume was one of the true giants of Northern Irish politics.

“As a champion of democracy in these islands and beyond, it was important for the Maison to ensure that Hume was finally represented in the collection.

“He was also one of the most important and influential parliamentarians of his generation, and he is greatly missed by his colleagues and MPs, both here in Westminster and across Europe.

‘Colin Davidson has captured a wonderful likeness, and the committee and I are delighted to accept this work into the Parliamentary Art Collection,’ Sir Lindsay added.

Titled John Hume, Davidson began work on the posthumous portrait in 2022.

Completed earlier this summer, the painting is an oil on canvas measuring 37×40 inches – in keeping with the artist’s commitment to large-scale, impactful works.

Mr. Hume is shown adjusting his glasses and concentrating on the gaze of the person looking at him – maintaining a curious, yet quietly assured pose.

Davidson first painted Mr. Hume in 2016 as part of a private commission.

Sitting with the politician for more than two hours, he made a number of sketches while Mr Hume read stories from Silent Testimony – Davidson’s collection of portraits and stories of individuals affected by The Troubles.

These sketches then formed the basis of the new composition of Parliament.

Then Prime Minister Tony Blair (centre) with (left) David Trimble and (right) John Hume in 1998
Then Prime Minister Tony Blair (centre) with (left) David Trimble and (right) John Hume in 1998 (PA)

Davidson said: “Six years ago I had the honor of spending time with John Hume sketching and sketching a man who had become a personal hero to me.

“Over the past year I have revisited these drawings and created something new – a different portrait that I hope captures John’s focused vision and strength of character.

“John meant so much to so many people across these islands. We wouldn’t have peace in this part of the world without him, so it’s fitting that this new portrait of John Hume now hangs in Westminster for people to visit and hopefully be inspired by. I am grateful to both the committee – and of course the Hume family – for this privilege. »

Dr Sean Farren, Chairman of the John And Pat Hume Foundation, said: ‘It is wonderful that Colin Davidson has been commissioned by the House of Commons not only because he is an internationally renowned local artist, but also because that Colin, through his work with Wave, is an activist for victims and survivors.

“His Silent Testimony exhibit features 18 large-scale portraits, capturing the pain and grief of those who suffered loss during the Troubles.

“Like John and Pat Hume, he is a courageous voice for peace and reconciliation.”