An insight into the life and many works of one of Ireland’s most distinguished artists and designers. Having studied architecture, Ballagh worked for a time as a showman musician and a draughtsman. Draughtsmanship remains the core of his art. His early work consisted of modish versions of pop imagery, but he was, and remains, industrious and inventive and quickly moved on.

One series of paintings depicted people looking at well-known works of art. His pastiches of other artworks were usually pointed, as, for example, his version of Goya’s ‘Third of May 1808’, which he used as a means of commenting on events in Northern Ireland. This wasn’t just an artistic device: he believes in the wider social responsibility of the artist.

He has undertaken numerous design projects, including stage sets book jackets, postage stamps and currency. In fact, his work passes through millions of hands every day; 70 stamps for the Irish postal service, and all current bank notes for the Bank of Ireland. Robert has also enjoyed international success with stage designs for Stephen Berkoff’s version of Wilde’s Salome, Riverdance and Samuel Beckett’s Endgame (Cork Film Festival Programme).


TG4 – 26 minutes