DP Kilfeather (b.1949)


Born in Egypt of a Falls Road Catholic father and English Italian Protestant mother Kilfeather spent his childhood rotating between England and Northern Ireland. As an Irish child in England and an English child at school in Belfast’s Ardoyne and Andersonstown. He mostly truanted from the age of 13 and absconded to Dublin and Liverpool, smuggling himself onto the ferry, as a stowaway without a ticket.

In his early teens he absconded to London to seek out the streets paved with gold. Returning an empty Lucozade bottle for the thruppence deposit to pay his Falls Road trolly bus fare to Belfast docks. Living in Soho and surrounds as an under-aged Beatnik, sleeping rough on the streets, begging for food on the steps of the National Gallery and breaking into derelict houses to sleep. Lying about his age to win a job in a prestige hotel as a commis chef but having to leave when he was getting groomed by a violent, knife wielding criminal colleague.  Whilst sleeping in a derelict house behind Baker Street station he discovered a dead body in the basement and reported it to the police. The London Murder Squad decided not to tell his parents and kept him locked in a cell for a couple of weeks to ensure he did not abscond. During this time he was abused and woken in the middle of the night and forced by detectives to look at and comment on detailed photographs of the murdered body.  Eventually the police notified his parents and he went back to Belfast, being recalled aged 15 and 16 to the Old Bailey Court Number One as a witness against the Gangland Murderer.

With minimal NI Junior Tech Cert qualifications Kilfeather joined the Royal Navy a few weeks after his 17th birthday. Having been refused until the London Murder Squad wrote him a glowing reference. These youngest years were difficult with many contradicting philosophical, religious and political challenges for him.  As indicated by his being on leave in Belfast during a terrorist action by the Royal Ulster Constabulary Specials and Unionist extremists to force families at gunpoint to flee their homes in the middle of the night between the Falls Road and Shankill Road. With Kilfeather acting, rather hopelessly, as a civil volunteer to help move men, women and children in their pajamas to safety at a Primary School in Andersonstown; dealing with the distressing personal contradictions then and thereafter.

Kilfeather’s time in the Royal Navy included being on Action Station patrols on the coast of Vietnam to try and intercept any Soviet Union ships providing supplies to the then mis-titled Viet Cong and visiting Cambodia. Including dining with a very poor Cambodian family. He is not proud of his performance during that visit and feels his naivety did not serve the family who worked to befriend him and he let himself down. He has no idea of how they dealt with the terrible times that followed. His eight years in the Royal Navy included Cold War Special Services, morse code, radio, cryptography and Bletchley Park.

Leaving the Navy in 1974 having married, now with 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren, (separated 2011 now divorced), Kilfeather moved into an IT career, initially operations, technical management and training then International Sales & Marketing. This highly successful career totally absorbed his mind and allowed him no space for cultural thinking activities of any type. The nearest he got to providing public service rather than IT sales, was his role in advising an MP on the establishment of a Parliamentary Working Group on Computer Security and Threats to the Establishment, including attending Group meetings at the House of Commons. During 2002 he started to suffer what was interpreted to be brain damage and memory problems and his employers ill-health retired him in 2004. Almost immediately Kilfeather discovered what he believes was always there, his Aesthetic Vocation. This started to emerge before he actually was retired, with Fine Art Photography studies at Brighton University for three years. Which led to his discovery of Dr. Ed Winters at West Dean College who introduced, for Des, what was a new interpretation of aesthetics.

Des Kilfeather's Aesthetic Vocation

A recurrent theme in Des Kilfeather's art is the philosophical exploration of ethics, greed, power, ambition, jealousy, apathy and time. Counterbalanced with poetic narratives of love, optimism and humour Des seeks to comment on that elusive human trait which overules ethical conscience.

Along with research, starkly and dramatically contrasting personal experiences inform Des' work. These are the main source of inspiration for the expression of doubt and optimism in his paintings.

Working with oil, ink, watercolour, etched copper plate, camera, digital manipulation, metaphor at multiple levels and the Internet, Des believes that the medium is superseded by concept. For Des the Internet represents the most exciting opportunity for everyone in the world to access art, regardless of economic status, health or cultural background. However the Internet is unlikely to ever replace face to face, close up engagement with the physical object of art itself.

Des, a UK National Open Art Exhibition prize winner and invited lifetime Florence Biennale Artist lives in Arundel, England, studied dark room photography at the University of Brighton, aesthetics, (the philosophy of art), painting and drawing at the Edward James Trust's West Dean College and for his Masters Degree in Fine Art at the University of Portsmouth. He is a voluteer community programme supporter, ambassador, art collection researcher and educator at the Pallant House Gallery. Including the privilege of being part of the team developing and facilitating Art Views; dementia friendly collection engagement sessions for the public. Art Views is an initiative from the Alzheimers support team at the Museum of Modern Art - MOMA, New York.

News: 18 August 2018, Des Kilfeather launches and exhibits for the first time his latest Relational Aesthetic project; collaborating with audience members to inspire them to create unique interpretations of his Universal Unconscious series of oil paintings.

News: June 2018, Des Kilfeather invited to be a SciArt Cambridge Group community member. SciArt comprises scientists and artists who collaborate to make both art and science more accessible to our wider society.

News: December 2015. Espacio Gallery, London, select Des Kilfeather as a Studio 2016 artist.

News:  November 2015. Des Kilfeather invited to establish a Portfolio Account with LensCulture Inc. https://www.lensculture.com/des-kilfeather

News:  October 2015. Des Kilfeather selected to participate in the Stride Open Art Exhibition 2015 at the Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester.

News:  June 2015. Des Kilfeather elected as a volunteer Trustee & Director of Portsmouth City Art Space with a particular brief on the education and artist practice mentoring team. Art Space, one the South's most signficant artistic institutions has 45 professional artist members, 30 of whom occupy Art Space studios.

News:  January 2015. Des Kilfeather invited by the Chichester Oxmarket Gallery to exhibit as part of its Summer Exhibition. This annual exhibition of invited artist work is planned for 8 - 21 June 2015.

News:  8 March 2015. Des Kilfeather C-type print, Synchronicity 1/5, achieved 58 bids during an auction for the Chestnut Tree House Children's Hospice at an exhibition in the Brighton DOME.

News:  Des Kilfeather and the University of Chichester collaborate on editioning intaglio prints for Des' exhibit at the Florence Bienale 2014, Italy.

News:  October 2013. Des Kilfeather received an unsolicited invite to be one of 8 UK artist representatives by the International Selection Committee of the Florence Biennale 2013. Anish Kapoor another of the UK artists received his lifetime achievement award at this event. Kilfeather's selection included exhibting at the IX Biennale, Ethics: DNA of Art and a lifetime invitation to exhibit in future Biennale events.

News:  October 2013. Des Kilfeather selected for UK National Open Art Exhibitons at the Royal College of Art London and the Chichester Theatre.

News:  June 2013 - December 2013. Des Kilfeather, in collaboration with the UK South's foremost public gallery The Pallant House is undertaking research into "artist's intention and the unconscious self". This volunteering research is being conducted in support of the gallery's Outside In and StepUp programme.

News:  February 2012. The Saatchi Online website homepage features Des Kilfeather's work as part of New This Week.

News: Dublin City, (UNESCO City of Literature), Dublin Library Service, Failte Ireland, Tourism Dublin and the Dublin Writers Museum have invited Des Kilfeather to show his James Joyce's Dubliners body of work at the Dublin Writers Museum Gallery 19 March - 19 May 2012.

News: Writers Museum Gallelry exhibition extended until the end of June 2012.

News:  Des Kilfeather's painting "The Jolly Sailor; obsolesence of the officer class", shortlisted for the National Open Art Competition 2012 and is included in the NOAC website.

News:  The University at Buffalo, New York, has acquired copy number 1. of Kilfeather's artist's book; James Joyce's Dubliners, a Visual Response.

News:  Des Kilfeather's oil painting "Click" seriously vandalised through stabbing. Damage converted to positive philosophy through gold leaf interventions and evolving the painting into a triptych presentation.

News:  17th March 2011, Des Kilfeather refuses to allow his painting "Click" to be included in the BBC list of paintings for the Show me the Monet series introduction and credits.

News:  Kilfeather's painting, Click, oil on canvas, 5' x 4', receives the Picture Framer's Endowment Award in the UK National Open Art Competition. Click is one of 118 works selected for this prestigious exhibition, from an entry of over 1,700 artists, shortlisted to 400. The panel of judges was chaired by Gavin Turk.

News:  Kilfeather launches the first Cyber Relational Art project on flickr. This exploratory project by Kilfeather is intended to engage with an audience with widely varying opinions and backgrounds, from professional artists to those who may have had no previous experience of fine art or no opportunity to express themselves through the medium. http://www.flickr.com/photos/28880384@N06/5105591932/

Forthcoming exhibitions:

Florence Biennale XI, eARTh, Florence, Italy. 6 - 15 October 2017.

The Victoria Institute, Arundel. —Introibo ad altare Dei: Dublin Easter Rising 2016 Phase I. Solo exhibition 26 March - 29 April 2016.

Arundel Museum, Arundel. —Introibo ad altare Dei; Dublin Easter Rising 2016, Phase II, parallel venue. Solo exhibition 26 - 29 April 2016.

Candida Stevens Gallery, Chichester. 15-17 February 2016. Chestnut Tree House, Big Heart Auction Preview.

Espacio Gallery, London. A Place in Between. Group Exhibition. 23 - 38 February 2016.

Brighton Dome, Brighton. 1-4 July 2016. Chestnut Tree House, Big Heart Auction Viewing.

The Stride Open Art Competition exhibition 2015, Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester. 20 October - 1 November 2015.

Oxmarket Gallery. Pallant House Gallery and Oxmarket collaboration at Oxmarket. Stepping In group exhibition 6 - 18 October 2015.

Pallant House Gallery, Step Up Showcase in the Studio. -Introibo ad altare Dei; audio and video sequences. 29 September - 22 November 2015.

The Victoria Institute, Arundel Gallery Art Trail. Supporting the LOCA Virgin Art Gallery. 22 - 31 August 2015.

Arun District Council Offices, Littlehampton. Solo exhibition as part of Littlehampton Arts Festival. 20 - 25 July 2015.

Old Portsmouth Cathedral. Omega Printmakers Annual Exhibition. 4 - 19 July 2015.

DMH Stallard Gallery, Crawley. July 2015. Curated by Jean Frickleton.

The OXMARKET Gallery, Chichester, Summer Exhibition, invited artist annual group exhibition, 8 - 21 June 2015.

The DOME, Brighton, Curated group exhibition by June Frickleton, Chestnut Tree House Children's Hospice Big Heart Auction 26 February - 8 March 2015.

Selected exhibitions:

CIC ART 2014 Haywards Heath art trail; guest artist at Paul Badham Gallery, Broadbridges Menswear and Big Life Organics, curated by June Frickleton. 5 - 20 April 2014.

KUNST WEISSENSEE 2014, Curated by Javier Ramirez. Galerie MARZIA FROZEN, Berlin. 8th March to 2nd April 2014.

Forence Biennale, Florence Italy. IX Florence Biennale, Ethics: DNA of ART. 30 November 2013 - 8 December 2013.

Royal College of Art, London. NOAC13. 25 October 2013 - 7 November 2013.

Minverva Theatre, Chichester. NOAC13. 13 November 2013 - 30 November 2013.

DMH Stallard, Gallery Space, Crawley. April 2013 - July 2013. Curated by June Frickleton.

Kings Hill, Curator Group Exhibition, Kent. 1 July 2013 - 1 October 2013. Curated by June Frickleton.

The Dublin Writers Museum, Dublin, Ireland. 19 March - 19 May 2012. James Joyce's Dubliners, a Visual Response & Contemporary Contextualisation. 

Portsmouth Central Library, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth. James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a Visual Response. October 2012.

The Philanthropic Atheist, a body of work comprising 5 screen prints and 5 paintings. At Panoptic group exhibition, sponsored by Portsmouth City Council, The University of Portsmouth and Aspex Gallery. Round Tower, Old Portsmouth. 9th September - 24th September 2011.

James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a Visual Response. Solo Exhibition. Wordsouth Literary Centre and Fine Art Gallery, Havant UK. 19th September - 2nd October 2011. 

Masters Fine Art 2011, group exhibition. GASP Gallery at Artspace Portsmouth. July 2011.

National Open Art Competition exhibition, 30th October - 13th November 2010. Minerva Theatre Chichester.

UK National MA & Post Graduate Contemporary Art Exhibition 2011. 21st Feb - 2nd Apr, 2011. Atkinson Gallery, Street. This is Kilfeather's second invitation to Atkinson Gallery where paintings from his Dubliners body of work have been selected.

Wordsouth Gallery, Havant, Hampshire, solo exhibition: James Joyce Dubliners, a Visual Response and Contemporary Contextualisation. 10th September - 10th October 2010.

Esemplastic: Upper House Itchenor, St Wilfrids Hospice & Cancer Research Charity Event Group Exhibition 24 - 26 September 2010. Curator Karen Gardner. http://upperhouseart.com

GASP, Artspace Portsmouth, July 2010. Group exhibition.

Oxmarket Gallery Chichester: Printmakers Cut4 Group Exhibition 7 - 19 June 2010

Oxmarket Gallery Chichester: Unity Studio event Group Exhibition 26 - 31 July 2010

James Joyce Dubliners, a Visual Response & Contemporary Contextualisation. 6 week solo show at Portsmouth Central Library Gallery.


Police & Thieves 2010. Group show at the Old Police Station, South London.




MA & Other Postgraduate Contemporary Art Show 2010. Group show at the Atkinson Gallery Street Somerset.




Donnie 2010. Group show at the Brooklyn Gallery, New York, of the Museum of Computer Art.








See Kilfeather at Flickr.

All images are strictly ©Copyright DP Kilfeather