Anne Hailes: In both print and paint, Billy Austin has certainly manufactured his mark

BILLY Austin lives in the townland of Brackagh, near Tandragee. “I’m a townie in amongst farmers but I’ve been so for 55 many years – I consider they’ve approved me.”

He shares his small bungalow with Averil, his wife of 55 many years, and it’s a little something of a Tardis, unremarkable from outdoors but within and ‘round the back’ it is really an Aladdin’s cave representing a large amount of really hard work and dedication.

Billy is now 82 a long time of age and has been working considering that he was 14. His initial position was in a weaving manufacturing unit in his house city of Portadown. Then he joined Morton Newspapers as a reporter with the Portadown Periods in which, with his fascination in artwork and his eye for layout, he quickly became the paper’s initial promoting representative at £12 a week.

“The Morton group grew quickly with the introduction of internet-offset printing equipment, the initial in the region, and it speedily became the major provincial weekly newspaper team in Ireland.”

They ended up interesting occasions which he liked and when he was only 29 Billy was appointed team advertising and marketing director.

Print was in his blood

When he left Mortons it was to constructed up a flourishing print corporation of his very own – in his bed room. Soon he experienced to go his devices into the garage which was grand until the orders outstripped the facility. The orders just blew in he suggests, so he and Averil place their heads collectively and planned an extension.

“I was carrying out some printing for a digger person and I was telling him we ended up heading to have to grow. ‘Where are we developing?’ he questioned. The adhering to early morning he and his digger moved into the again back garden and the foundations have been laid by lunchtime. ‘There you go,’ he explained, ‘now you can build your new printshop.’

Billy and his spouse took it basically

With Averil manning the cement mixer they created the partitions, received timber for the roof trusses, tiled it, set in major home windows for greatest gentle, plastered inside, white marble clippings exterior and sooner or later gave in and had a plumber install the heating.

All the time, considering that he was a boy or girl, this born artist was sketching and painting and when he reached 65 he offered the business and he and Averil concentrated on holidaying in the south of France, travelling Ireland – particularly Achill – and roaming the continent in the family members camper van, Billy painting as they went, every little thing from church buildings to chateaux, stream trains to donkey carts and blacksmiths to locksmiths.

He shows his do the job on Fb and as a final result has almost 13,000 followers who are also buddies. He has constructed up a throughout the world clientele and now his function hangs on walls in Russia, China, the United states of america – “Mostly Irish scenes as Us residents still think we’re all living in thatched cottages and having close to in a donkey and cart” – continental Europe, Australia and all over Britain and Ireland.

Passing on the appreciate of art

Though he wound up his official print corporation 17 a long time back, this proficient guy continue to prints in his bed room but it is the kitchen area table that is now the emphasis of interest – that is wherever he sits to generate his remarkable portraits.

“Thankfully Averil doesn’t worry about the mess. I primarily perform from pictures and always in watercolours – no room for issues. I look for the tones and shadows, make my sketch, mark the gentle and shade then basically fill in with colour.” He can make it seem simple.

Their son Roger was not fascinated in having about the print small business – he had other fish to fry when he completed his instruction he turned the youngest actuary in Britain, devising pension plans working with his mathematical and data techniques and now has his have practices in Edinburgh, London and soon in Dublin.

On the other hand, Billy’s a few grandchildren have always demonstrated an fascination in portray with Granda and two of the girls have exhibited their get the job done on their Fb webpage.

“I’m quite very pleased of them. All the tips I have at any time handed on is, constantly paint what you see not what you think about.”

His favourite portray is of his father that was accomplished some many years back for St Thomas Road Boys Brigade business in memory of the years Mr Austin senior was volunteer caretaker.

“They preferred a photo of him to hold with the dignitaries, a Church of Eire guy in amongst the Methodists.”

Billy has scaled down his fee get the job done to a pair a thirty day period, sometimes working from nine to midnight but most days he’s to be observed in the kitchen spending a couple of several hours on his individual preference of subject matter – pop stars or favorite canines, personalities or scenes of poverty. Having said that, most often it’s own portraits, normally as a surprise for a buddy. I am fortuitous to drop into that class.

See Billy’s perform on Fb.