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The Venue

17 October 2019

Ireland’s Most Generous Visual Art Awards Announced

  • Limerick School of Art & Design student a double winner at RDS Visual Art Awards
  • RDS Visual Art Awards Exhibition of 2019’s best visual art graduates open until October 24
  • Five awards announced with a total prize fund of over €30,000 – the most generous annual visual art fund in Ireland

Louise Wallace has won two prizes at the 2019 RDS Visual Art Awards (7pm Thursday, October 17) for her work Hidden in Hazel, including the top prize, the RDS Taylor Art Award of €10,000. Louise also took the RDS Centre Culturel Irlandais Residency Award, which is supported by Mason Hayes and Curran, giving her a three-month artist-in-residency in Paris for the summer of 2020. As a winner of the RDS Taylor Art Award, Louise follows an illustrious roll-call of previous winners such as Roderic O’Connor, Seán Keating, Louis Le Brocquy, Dorothy Cross, Maria McKinney, Norah McGuinness and many others.

A graduate from Limerick School of Art and Design in Photography, Film and Video, Louise’s award-winning multi-media installation was made in collaboration with men living off-grid in the Burren, Co. Clare. Through her work she documents their lives and desire to live an ‘analogue’ existence, which she did using film photography, 16mm film and cassette tape to record interviews, in keeping with the lack of digital engagement experience in the subject’s everyday lives.

The three film pieces explore hidden stories from three characters. They are projected onto three screens on a free-standing triangular frame and accompanied by ambient sounds of the dawn chorus. Each protagonist has little or no connection to the digital realm, having instead chosen to focus their attention on their own personal creative endeavours.


Speaking about the winning work, Chair of the judging panel, Patrick Murphy, Director of the RHA said: “Louise Wallace’s triangulated video installation deals with what we think of as a disenfranchised community. Men living in abject conditions in the County Clare countryside. But remarkably her work transcends our stereotyping of them, revealing insights and their humanity.

The standard of the exhibition is very high and it was difficult to decide on just a few of them to be celebrated through the Awards.”

The exhibition was co-curated by artists Janet Mullarney and David Quinn.

This year the R.C. Lewis Crosby Award (€5,000) was split between two artists. Jamie Cross from IADT Dún Laoghaire was included for The Uninhabitable Space of Objects, an exploration of the hidden space inside everyday items. The prize was shared with Clare Scott of CIT Crawford College of Art & Design for her site-specific sculptural piece using recycled materials.

New for 2019, the RDS Whyte’s Award, worth €5,000 was presented to Ronan Smyth for his piece, Westwood Jazz No.27. The Belfast School of Art graduate, who earlier this year received the ‘2019 Deans List Award’, uses ceramic, textile and woodwork in his mixed media installation that draws upon themes of class, gender and status.


The RHA Graduate Studio Award is awarded as part of the RDS Visual Art Awards. With a value of €5,000, this prize comes with a stipend of €2,500 which is supported by Whyte’s. TU Dublin School of Creative Arts graduate, Ellen Duffy is the recipient of this award which was selected by the RHA’s Colin Martin and Ruth Carroll for her sculptural pieces. Entitled Assembling Agency Ellen’s work is concerned with an interest in how materials give power to one another by way of the role they play in an assemblage.


The RDS Visual Art Awards exhibition runs Friday October 18 - Thursday October 24, with free curator’s tours of the exhibition at 1.00pm from Friday October 18- Monday October 21 inclusive.

The Competition

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 2019. Earlier in the year the RDS sent seven professional curators to visit the end of year BA and MA degree shows in thirteen art colleges around the country. In total they longlisted 105 graduates, who were invited to apply for the awards.

Why the RDS?

The arts are a key component of the RDS mission to contribute to the cultural and economic development of Ireland. The RDS Visual Art Awards has a total prize fund equivalent of €32,500 and follows the long-standing RDS tradition of supporting emerging Irish artistic talent.



List of award winners:

RDS Taylor Art Award (€10,000) – Louise Wallace, Limerick School of Art & Design


R.C. Lewis-Crosby (€5,000) – Clare Scott, CIT Crawford College of Art & Design / Jamie Cross, IADT Dún Laoghaire


RDS Whyte’s Award (€5,000) – Ronan Smyth, Belfast School of Art


RHA Graduate Studio Award (value equivalent €5,000 + €2,500 stipend) – Ellen Duffy, TU Dublin School of Creative Arts


RDS Centre Culturel Irlandais Residency Award, supported by Mason Hayes & Curran (value equivalent €5,000) -  Louise Wallace, Limerick School of Art & Design


Judging Panel:

Rachel Gilbourne - IMMA Nominated Judge

Janet Mullarney – Co-Curator

Patrick Murphy - RHA Nominated Judge (Chair)

David Quinn, Artist – Co-Curator

Cliodhna Shaffrey – RDS Nominated Judge

Lesley Tully - NGI Nominated Judge


College Curators:

Mary Conlon               Ormston House, Limerick

Darragh Hogan           Kerlin Gallery

Sean Kissane               IMMA

Paul McAree               Lismore Castle Arts

Aoife Ruane                Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda

Sarah Searson             The Dock

Linda Shevlin               Independent Curator

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