Sculptor 'cursed' with perfectionism
Conor Fallon was one of the pre-eminent Irish sculptors of the last century, his steel birds and animals capturing their essence with a spare beauty and elegance. He considered that Cubism was "the development in the art of the 20th century" and his own sculpture absorbed its influence, but he was also greatly affected by the work of the early Greeks and the carved figures of ancient Egypt.
Although Fallon was initially known for fairly small sculptures, and was "unable to see how I could do public sculptures of birds without them being distortions", he eventually became noted for some fine large open-air pieces. His Chanticleer (1991), at University College Dublin student residences, Winged Horse (1992), in Athenry, Co Galway, and Horse (1994), also at UCD, are sizeable works by an artistic perfectionist that daily delight the passer-by.
Fallon was born in Dublin in 1939, the third of six sons of the poet Pdraic Fallon and his wife Dorothea, known as Don, derived from Pdraic's name for her, Madonna. The Fallons moved to Wexford after Conor was born and there he mixed with country folk, and also with his parents' intellectual and artistic friends, such as the poet Austin Clarke, the painter Tony O'Malley and the composer Freddie May.
His brother Brian Fallon became a noted art critic. Conor referred to him as "my spiritual mentor", who introduced him to Homer's Odyssey by telling him it was a serial story when he was still a small boy, and sharing with him the collecting of reproductions of paintings. Conor's father was a civil servant, like other creative Irish people who needed a day job. Although he had always drawn and painted, Conor entered Trinity College in Dublin to study natural science, but left after two years when his botany professor suggested that he should be an artist.
He began as a self-taught painter in 1957, during the day working as an accountant. Fallon learned the handling of paint in the studio of Richard Kingston, to whom he had been introduced by O'Malley. He met other important artists including George Campbell and Gerard Dillon.
In 1964 Fallon went to Cornwall to visit O'Malley, who had moved there after a heart attack. Fallon was poised to meet the painter Peter Lanyon, but Lanyon died in a glider crash before the meeting took place. The St Ives artistic community was shattered by the event, particularly Lanyon's student Nancy Wynne-Jones. …