Tony O’Malley (1913-2003) was a largely self-taught painter who was based in St Ives for most of his career, and is now regarded as one of the major figures in Irish contemporary art. He started painting quite late in life, but he was extraordinarily prolific. The basic themes of his paintings were nature and history, and working intuitively, he would paint on everything from scraps of recycled paper and canvas to fragments of wood and slate.
O’Malley first came to St Ives in 1955, settled permanently in 1960 after retiring from his job in a bank due to ill-health. In 1973 he married Canadian artist Jane Banks, and they both worked in Studio 4. He was a popular member of the arts community, and received support in particular from Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron. He travelled frequently back to Ireland and the Bahamas, before returning to live in Ireland in 1990.