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The Venue

22 October 2018

2018 RDS Visual Art Awards

  • Sherkin Island art work takes €10,000 2018 RDS Taylor Art Award
  • Multi-media art work on Drogheda port takes second major prize
  • Exhibition is a gathering of the best visual art graduate work of 2018 with a total prize fund of €30,000

Bere island native Mary Sullivan has won the 2018 RDS Taylor Art Award of €10,000 for her BA work At Home, At War which was announced at the launch of the RDS Visual Art Awards Exhibition tonight (Monday, October 22). Mary follows an illustrious roll-call of previous winners such as Harry Clarke, Seán Keating, Louis Le Brocquy, Dorothy Cross, Maria McKinney, Sam Keogh and many others.

Mary Sullivan is a graduate of the DIT Dublin School of Creative Arts, Sherkin Island, where she received a first-class honours BA in Visual Art. Her RDS Taylor Art Award winning installation entitled At Home, At War is a video sculpture piece linking the repetitive nature of domestic chores to the drill and precision of military discipline.

Mary constructed a life-size military ‘look-out’ block house, which houses four video performances on four flat-screen televisions viewed through a peep hatch on each side. Mary recorded a series of performances in abandoned military sites on Bere Island, former home to a British navy base. Each task in the video works is undertaken with precision and care in an underground, windowless passageway. The scenes in the tunnel allude to suffocation and claustrophobia, as well as speaking back to Ireland’s colonial past and raising questions of the role of women in Irish society.

Speaking about the winning work, exhibition curator Amanda Coogan said: “Mary Sullivan’s installation was a unanimous choice by the judging panel for the RDS Taylor Art Award. She is an artist of immense integrity and has created a powerful installation that speaks to Ireland’s colonial past and in parallel explores the role of women in Ireland.

The panel were delighted with the standard of work from this year’s graduates and which is reflected in this year’s exhibition.”

NCAD graduate Gary Reilly was this year awarded the R.C. Lewis Crosby Award (€5,000) for Duanaire. This work involved the artist collaborating with a composer and a brass band. It incorporates a film and a beautifully crafted publication linked to the port in Drogheda, Co. Louth. Gary’s multimedia piece explores the relationship of the town and its port which has changed over the years as it moved from state to commercial semi-state ownership. In the past, Drogheda has had a strong working-class identity, but Gary suggests that the town has lost much of this identity in the post-industrial era.

A new €2,500 cash award was awarded to Sue Dolan – a graduate of CIT Crawford College of Art & Design in Cork. Her piece entitled a mala nada na lama, is Sue’s response to a case study of documented resistance to the displacement of a community in Rio de Janeiro, which happened in advance of the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, and it draws transcultural parallels with women’s rights in Ireland in 2018. Sue is currently on a six-month residency at the National Sculpture Factory and has been awarded a Cork Film Centre residency. She won the Lavit Gallery Student of the Year Award, which gives her a solo exhibition in the gallery in February 2019.

The winner of the 2018 Centre Culturel Irlandais Residency Award in Paris is Elaine Grainger, an MA graduate of NCAD. This award is sponsored by Mason Hayes & Curran who have a strong track record of supporting Irish artists.

Her work entitled barely hardly there, is a site-specific installation. Each work is assembled with the intention of interrelating with the others, connected through the positioning of the viewer. Materials such as clay and glass are purposely placed with materials such a plastic and neon. The work hovers between two and three dimensions.

Another new award for 2018 is the result of a partnership with the RHA who have offered its RHA Graduate Studio Award as part of the 2018 RDS Visual Art Awards. With a value of €5,000, this prize comes with a stipend of €2,500 which is supported by the RDS. IADT Graduate Anishta Chooramun is the recipient of this award which was selected by the RHA.

Entitled And Then We Met Anishta’s work comprises of a series of sculptures made from various materials including birch ply, paper, glass, fabric, metal, expandable foam and lino. The pieces vary in size and are installed to create an abstract jigsaw puzzle.

The RDS Visual Art Awards Exhibition runs Tuesday October 23 - Monday October 29 with curator’s tours of the exhibition every day at 1.00pm.

The prestigious RDS Taylor Art Award has been presented by the RDS since 1860 and is one of the most important awards for emerging visual artists in Ireland today. Thirteen artists were selected by a judging panel of five for inclusion in the exhibition which is open free to the public and represents the best graduating visual artists of 2018. Earlier in the year the RDS sent eight professional curators to visit the end of year BA and MA degree shows in thirteen art colleges around the country. In total they longlisted 121 graduates, who were invited to apply for the awards.

The Competition

The arts are a key component of the RDS mission to see Ireland thriving culturally and economically. The RDS Visual Art Awards has a total prize fund of €30,000 and follows the long-standing RDS tradition of supporting emerging Irish artistic talent. Independent college curators were employed by the RDS to visit thirteen end-of-degree shows all around Ireland and longlist the best as contenders to exhibit. 121 artists were longlisted in this way, with thirteen then shortlisted by the judging panel to display their work at the RDS Visual Art Awards Exhibition. The four winners were then selected from the thirteen exhibitors.



List of award winners:

RDS Taylor Art Award - Mary Sullivan

R.C. Lewis-Crosby - Gary Reilly

RDS Special Award - Sue Dolan

RHA Graduate Studio Award - Anishta Chooramun

RDS Centre Culturel Irlandais Residency Award - Elaine Grainger


Judging Panel:

Noel Kelly, CEO Visual Arts Ireland & Chair of the RDS Arts Committee – Chair

Amanda Coogan, Artist – Curator

Colin Martin - RHA Nominated Judge

Seán Kissane - IMMA Nominated Judge

Lesley Tully - NGI Nominated Judge


College Curators:

Ruth Carroll                RHA

Mary Conlon               Ormston House, Limerick

Darragh Hogan           Kerlin Gallery

Belinda Quirke            Solstice Arts Centre

Aoife Ruane                Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda

Sarah Searson            The Dock

Cliodhna Shaffrey       Temple Bar Gallery & Studios

Linda Shevlin              Independent Curator

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