Tom Cullen was born in Donnybrook, Dublin in 1934. His father was a butcher whose family ran a butchering business in the village for generations. He was educated in Synge Street Christian Brothers School. Tom’s natural talent for drawing was noticed at an early age by his art teacher who encouraged him to take up painting professionally. However, on leaving school he entered the family business and his painting regrettably played second fiddle. 1973 brought a devastating bank strike in Ireland and, like so many other family businesses, the Cullen’s family butchers went into liquidation. It was then that Tom took up painting professionally.
With the tutoring of his artist friends and his own natural flair he soon became one of Dublin’s leading artists. He shared his first solo exhibition with Robert Ballagh and had many successful solo exhibitions throughout his long career. These included: The Graphics Gallery, Stephens Green; Man of Aran, Aran Quay; Ashling Gallery, Madison Avenue, New York. Tom lectured in The National College of Art and Design, Thomas Street, Dublin and taught art in Blackrock College. He spent six years painting on the continent, primarily in Austria, Bavaria and Switzerland.
Tom developed a distinctive style over the years. Known primarily for his scenes of vanishing Dublin, his application of paints is bold and knowing, adding strength and character to the work. Tom used a palette knife technique and painted with a range of harmonious colour tones. The resultant, unique style can only be accredited to the artist himself.
Tom sadly passed away after a short illness in May, 2001 at the age of 66. With this event a deep sadness touched the world of Irish art. Tom’s passing marked the end of an era as he took with him his ingenious style and scenes of Dublin in the “rare old times”. As old Dublin, as it was once known, fades rapidly into dear memories, so too does our friend Tom. May these memories of this great artist and his paintings live forever.