Born on Tory Island in 1887, James Dixon was an Irish artist and landscape painter. He spent most of his life on the island as a fisherman and farmer, rarely leaving at all. Unusually he began painting at quite an old age. He began to become known when he was at the ripe old age of 72, after meeting British artist Derek Hill. Hill saw the artistic potential in Dixon, encouraging and supporting his arts endeavours, and the two became good friends.
One of the factors that gave some of his art its aggressive, sweeping quality was the fact that he preferred to use his own homemade brushes made from donkey hair. His work was exhibited in his lifetime in Belfast and London in 1966 and again in Dublin in 1968. He died in his home on Tory in 1970 and was buried in the local cemetery with the rest of his family. Another exhibition comparing his work with a Cornish artist of similar style and background, Alfred Wallis, took place posthumously in the Irish Museum of Modern Art Dublin and the Tate Gallery in London in 1999.
James Dixon became an important and influential figure in 20th century Irish art and is admired for his simple but effective approach and his contribution to the development of the primitive style of island art that arose in the area.