Art Gallery: Sports Collection

Stephen Ferris NO.6 Immortalised in Paint 

Stephen Ferris and FL Brunell with No.6 painting

Stephen Ferris and FL Brunell with NO.6 Painting

Numbers and dates are integral to my artwork. Since Stephen Ferris is synonymous with his rugby position number 6 this formed the basis of the artwork to iconise Stephen’s rugby career. Recently Ferris was voted Ireland’s greatest blindside of the pro era by a survey on SportsJOE.ie. He achieved 106 caps for Ulster, 35 caps for Ireland, a Grand Slam and a Lions Tour. The formidable forward regrettably had to hang up his rugby boots in 2014, all too prematurely due to a longterm ankle injury. As a player he was undoubtedly a tour de force with exceptional talent and dedication.

The painting reflects his ability on the pitch. Having read through articles that have been written about Stephen over the course of his career, praise for Ferris’ remarkable diversity in terms of strength and speed proved consistent. Two quotes had a particular resonance. Ireland forwards coach Gert Smal described Stephen as having ‘natural power and explosiveness’ whilst Irish examiner journalist Jim Stokes on Stephen’s retirement wrote ”Fearless Ferris had it all. Pace to burn, good hands, quick feet, a great rugby brain…”

The resulting painting represents the power of Stephen Ferris. The focal point of the painting is the number 6 placed in the starting position on the field of play. From here six lines emanate. Strength and speed are represented by way of three solid blocks and three abstracted lightening bolts respectively.

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It was imperative that the lines should stretch the length and breath of the pitch, thus being representative of Ferris’ complete capability to cover the six segments of the pitch.   

Given the many appearances for his province, the white of Ulster with elements of red and black have been employed throughout as well as green indicative of his lauded Ireland performances. The white of the Ireland 6 has some inter-dispersion of red to making reference to the Ulster jersey.

The pitch formed the basis of the composition and was replicated to scale in order to generate a veritable concept of the game.

The backdrop of the green pitch has been applied in many layers, utilising a number of shades in order to identify with the movement and shifts of the game. Elongated striated brushstrokes have been utilised to represent the speed and colours have been blended so that that they merge and interact becoming at times one in order to identify with the collisions and physicality of the game.

I have always been a supporter of rugby. My dad played the game growing up and as a small child I would wear his bright blue rugby boots around the house. It is of course only as you gain greater knowledge of the game that you can appreciate the skill of the sport.

I have definitely been one amongst the many admirers of Stephen as a player. Stephen’s appearance on the field instilled a lot more confidence in a victory. Working with Stephen it is evident that he exhibits the same integrity both on and off the pitch. He is a genuine person, very affable but concurrently very focused, which is a winning combination.

Stephen Ferris has created a lasting legacy with an outstanding contribution to rugby. He is undoubtedly an inspirational player from whom many future players can learn how to apply oneself and succeed in the game.

FL Brunell



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