About Sinéad Smyth

Sinéad Smyth was born, raised and now lives on the remote Inishowen Peninsula, close to the most Northernly point of the Irish Atlantic coast in Co. Donegal.  

Leaving home at 17 to work in Berlin, living in Belfast for many years, Heidelberg in Germany for a year and travelling to North Africa, South America and across Europe in a camper van, she settled back in Inishowen during 2000.

Over the last few years, she has dedicated herself to her painting practice and renovating a 100 year old cottage, with traditional lime, into her studio and an artists’ residency, where she now runs regular painting and creative development courses.

Donegal artist Sinéad Smyth

Sinéad worked as an artist in the community for 25 years, beginning with the Belfast City Council in 1995. She has worked with The Turner Prize, The Thames Festival, The British Council, City of Culture 2013 and many public bodies, on cross-cultural, single identity, cross-community and public art projects in the UK and Ireland.

Sinéad is Associate Artist with Echo Echo Dance Theatre in Derry city, programming and curating their Visual Arts Exhibition space.

Sinéad’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited in Ireland, UK, Europe and, most recently, India. Here’s a few of the exhibitions that Sinéad has been a part of.


Sinéad is a professional Irish contemporary artist working in oils, charcoal and mixed media. Her paintings and drawings translate her experience of place, remembering and belonging.  She captures the rugged atmosphere and ancient energy of the Irish landscape and its geography, focusing on the Donegal coastline and the Inishowen Peninsula, where she lives.

Her artwork often responds to observations and experiences of the land, the sea. She records her ideas in writing (often inspired by Celtic folklore), by sketch and taking photographic references, developing paintings en plein air (outside in real time) and from memory. Her aim is to capture an essence and atmosphere, creating the illusion of detail through gestural mark making. Her work has been called ‘impressionistic’ and ‘abstract’, with a style described as ‘Turner-esque’.

Sinead’s paintings reflect her love of observation. Her use of colour and space have been influenced by her travels yet result in a distinctive Irish flavour.

Sinéad is self-taught, painting and drawing since she was very young. She has spent time studying and working with several professional artists and art bodies through artist development courses and events with the RUA, the North-West College, the Regional Cultural Centre and Artlink. She is an invited member of The Drawing Box International and a professional member of Visual Artists Ireland.

In 2010, she won an award for her portrait in oil at the “Open Your Mind Exhibition”, NUS-USI, Northern Ireland, which encouraged her towards a professional career as a visual artist, specialising in oil painting.

“I create paintings and drawings, portraits and landscapes, which communicate my experience of the land and the people around this rural Donegal peninsula of Inishowen, which I call home.”

Sinéad was interviewed by the BBC Arts Show for Radio Foyle as ‘an artist worth watching’ and was featured in their ‘highlights of the year’ programme in December 2016.  Her paintings have been exhibited with the Royal Ulster Academy, the Cairde Visual Festival and Boyle Arts Festival at King House.

Her work is held in private collections in Ireland, UK, Europe, the U.S.A and India.

“Invited artist in the Boyle Arts Festival Main Exhibition 2016, 2017 & 2018, the unique, painterly works of Sinéad Smyth can be modest in scale but wonderfully capture changing light.”

Paul McKenna, Curator, Boyle Arts Festival.

“These semi-abstract landscapes are executed in heavy, buttery oil paint which she applies by brush, knife and by hand. This technique is combined with a confident use of intense colour. These lush atmospheric paintings have wide appeal and are highly collectable.”

Janet Ross, Ross Fine Art

Community Engagement

Sinéad has been organising, enabling and facilitating arts-related projects for over two decades and has worked on several collaborative art projects on both sides of the Irish border, including the The Arts Council of Northern Ireland Ireland Re-imaging Communities Programme, the City of Culture/Thames Festival ‘Rivers of the World’ Project. She has worked with many other councils including Causeway Coasts and Glens District Council, Derry and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council. Sinéad is a founder member of the Rural Arts Network, a group created in 2011 to support, encourage and exhibit rural artists’ work.