Winners of the annual RDS Visual Art Awards have been announced in the RDS Concert Hall, at the launch of this annual exhibition that celebrates emerging Irish artists. This year’s awards were announced by Chair of the judging panel, Mary McCarthy, Director of the Crawford Gallery, Cork and presented by the RDS President, Professor Owen Lewis. The quality of this year’s applications was outstanding, and the thirteen artists who were included in the exhibition went through a rigorous two stage selection and judging process. They are a real tribute to the professionalism and talent of the emerging artists coming into the visual arts sector this year. The 2022 exhibition runs at the RDS Concert Hall from 21 to 29 October.
The RDS Visual Art Awards applications were reviewed by a team of six professional curators: Sheena Barrett, Rayne Booth, Valerie Byrne, Mary Cremin, Eamonn Maxwell and Sharon Murphy. Between them they longlisted 109 graduates to move forward to the second stage of the competition which was later shortlisted to the thirteen artists who now exhibit their work at the annual exhibition.
A judging panel of five visual art professionals reviewed these longlisted applications and shortlisted the candidates before selecting the final 13 artists. The 2022 show is curated by internationally acclaimed artist Aideen Barry. The full expert judging panel is chaired by Mary McCarthy, and members also include Eithne Jordan, Christina Kennedy, Gary Coyle and Aideen Barry.
Commenting on the talent this year the judging panel, chaired by Mary McCarthy said; “We were enthralled by the work of the 13 x shortlisted artists which are included in the 2022 RDS Visual Art Awards exhibition curated by Aideen Barry. We are also very impressed by the ability of this year’s RDS Taylor Art Award winner, Venus Patel to turn a transphobic attack into an incredibly beautiful artwork.”
Geraldine Ruane, RDS Chief Executive said; “The arts are a key component of the RDS Foundation Programme and its mission to make a positive contribution to the cultural and economic development of Ireland. The RDS Visual Art Awards exhibition provides a platform for talented graduates to showcase their work, and in addition, has a total prize fund equivalent of €30,000. It continues a long-standing RDS tradition of supporting emerging Irish artistic talent. The prestigious RDS Taylor Art Award has been presented by the RDS since 1860 and is still one of the most important awards for emerging visual artists in Ireland today.”
Aideen Barry, Artist and RDS Visual Art Awards Exhibition Curator said: “Through a dark mirror we present to you the contemporary world reflected back at you the viewer. The artists selected for this year’s RDS Visual Arts Awards exhibition represent the best of contemporary emerging Irish visual culture. They offer us a proposition of ideas and musings on the way this generation is navigating the topography of our unsettling world. It is uncertain, it is non-conforming, it is melancholic, at times humorous and challenging. Prepare to be sucked in”.
THE 2022 PRIZES & WINNERS ARE….
>>RDS Taylor Art Award €10,000
The RDS Taylor Art Award is a cash prize of €10,000 and is awarded as first prize in the RDS Visual Art Awards to the person the judges believe to be the most promising emerging visual artist in that year. All visual art disciplines will be considered for this award, which comes with some rich history having been awarded since 1860. Some of Ireland’s most respected artists have won the award over the years including, Walter Osbourne, William Orpen, Mainie Jellett, Norah McGuinness, Séan Keating, Dorothy Cross and James Hanley.
And the 2022 winner is Venus Patel
Venus’s practice draws from her theatre and acting background, mixing performance and experimental film. Her work usually stems from her own experiences, rising from questions she has about the world, herself, and how the two interact. Venus says that as a queer person of colour, she has constantly been bothered by society and it is therefore important for her voice to be heard outside of the white heteronormative society she is so forcefully suppressed by. Venus’s work acts as a way for her to process her emotions which manifest in a complex and dynamic way. The characters Venus creates are all extensions of her own psyche representing how she navigates the world.
Her work, ‘Eggshells’ is an experimental short film that deals with her own experience of a hate-crime in which she was egged and yelled at. The film is cut into 12 different segments, each focusing on a different character performing with an egg in different contexts. As Venus tries to process the event, the egg becomes its own symbol as it shows her journey of emotions, from sadness to internalized/externalized anger to finally acceptance and growth. The film uses performance, music, and dance in order to tumble through this journey. Venus’s references to cinema and theatre create a different feel for each segment of the film.
>>R.C. Lewis-Crosby Award €5,000
The R.C. Lewis-Crosby Award is a cash prize of €5,000. All visual art disciplines are considered for this prize which is the result of a bequest from Robin Lewis-Crosby, a former President of the RDS and Taylor Art Trustee for many years. The arts were always a key part of his life and he took a deep interest in the RDS Visual Art Awards. Before he died, he created a new award in his name for painting; a skill he wanted to encourage. When he died in 2008, he endowed a significant amount of money in his will to be managed by the RDS in order to ensure that the R.C. Lewis-Crosby Award would continue. In 2015 the Award which was formerly a painting prize, was opened to all visual art forms and increased to €5,000.
And the 2022 winner is Sadhbh Mowlds
Sadhbh graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a master’s in fine art, having previously completed a BA in Design in the National College of Art and Design in 2014. Existing in the realm of the uncanny, Sadhbh’s work straddles the line between hyper-realism and surrealism to create absurd yet recognisable realities that challenge prevalent and destructive social constructs.
Working in an array of materials, most notably glass and silicone, Sadhbh creates grotesquely beautiful and questionably life-like work that beg the viewer’s contemplation. In ‘Eve’ a full figure sits on the floor. In the process of shaving her toe, she is caught by the viewer who sees her reflection in the mirror she is perched in front of. The two of their reflections share a space in the mirror of shame and judgement. The work is a simple comment on the absurdity of our social perceptions of beauty standards and gender roles.
Her work, ‘The Tissues of Bondage,’ looks at the idea that our flesh can become the constraint of our freedom, a rope fabricated in painted silicone that mimics skin and is resting upon a vanity table. ‘Unmentionables’ highlights the detachment many people have with their bodies: a relationship which is entangled in falsehoods, shame and millennia of social constructs. In ‘Double-crossed,’ the transformation between silicone and glass is symbolic of the relationship between our internal and external selves, between our being and our nothingness, our flesh and our consciousness. Preventing ourselves from “moving on” and restricting our true desires is a form of self-deception that continues to haunt our species.
>>RDS Members’ Art Fund Award €5,000
This cash award which is funded by RDS Members, is open to all visual art disciplines and all exhibiting artists will be automatically considered for this prize.
And the 2022 winner is Orla Comerford
Orla graduated from the National College of Art & Design this year with a first-class honours Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She is a multidisciplinary visual artist working across the mediums of video, audio, photography and woodwork. The exploration of glitch art and the question of who gets to see in high resolution are central themes in her practice. Her intentional distortion, degradation and corruption of videos and images in order to create impressions, plays into these themes. As a visually impaired artist, Orla’s aesthetic pull towards glitch art and distortion of images is informed by the fact that what she sees, and how she encounters the world, is a distortion in its own sense. So, while she often makes up an image of what’s in front of her, based on impression or audio, she plays with the idea of having the viewer do the same when encountering her work.
Her work, called ‘Oidhreacht’ is an interactive installation which explores the question posed above – who gets to see in high resolution? while at the same time chronicling the tradition and legacy of craftwork in Orla’s family.
>>RHA Graduate Studio Award €7,500 value
The winner of this award will have 24-hour, full-time access to a (non-residential) studio space (inclusive of utilities), for one year in the RHA, Ely Place, Dublin 2. The winner must be able to take up the studio during the allocated time frame and will have free access to all RHA School classes and master-classes for the duration of the year. This award has a non-cash equivalent value of €5,000 and comes with a cash stipend of €2,500 (sponsored by the RDS Members’ Arts Fund). Applicants for this award must tick the box on the online application form to be considered for the Award. They must also state on the application how the studio award would assist them with their creative practice and include an outline of their plans for the year. The winner will be selected by the RHA School Principal in consultation with the RHA Director from those artists who applied for the award. The decision is based on the quality of the work as well as the written statement. On completion of the residency, the RDS will ask the successful recipient to complete a report on how the studio award assisted them with their practice.
And the 2022 winner is Lucy Peters
Lucy graduated from the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin this year with a Masters in Art and Research Collaboration. She completed her undergraduate BA in Fine Art at Limerick Institute of Technology. With a background in the fashion industry, she has become increasingly concerned with the vast volumes of mass-produced clothes that are casually consumed and thrown away. Her exploration of over-consumption has encompassed research into the practices of fashion retailers, including those that are closing down, as well as the strategies that have been developed by charities to manage huge warehouses full of discarded, and ultimately worthless, fast fashion clothing.
Her work, ‘Making It Laaaast’ is informed by research into production and consumption practices, and the physical architecture of fashion retail display. It is a series of soft sculptures made from fast fashion garments. These garments are shredded down and woven to form large sculptural pieces. All material used in Lucy’s work is found, recycled or donated.
>>RDS Mason Hayes & Curran LLP Centre Culturel Irlandais Residency Award (value €6,000)
The winner will have full-time access to a room and studio space for three months (June, July, August of year following their year of exhibition in the RDS) in the Centre Culturel Irlandais in the heart of Paris. This award has a non-cash equivalent value of €5,000 and will include a stipend of €700 per month which will be paid to the winner by the CCI during the residency. For the first time in 2020, a cash award of €1,000 will be paid to the winner as part of the prize. Flights will also be organized by the CCI. Applicants for this award must tick the box on the RDS Visual Art Awards online application form to be considered for the Award. They must also state on the application form how the residency award would assist them with their creative practice and outline the focus of the residency. The judges will select the shortlist of candidates suitable for the award and the final decision will be made by the Director of the Irish Cultural Centre, Nora Hickey M’Sichili from those artists who applied for the award. This decision is based on the work presented to the competition as well as the written statement. An interview may also be required. On completion of the residency, the RDS will ask the successful resident to complete a report on how the residency award assisted them with their practice.
And the 2022 winner is Myfanwy Frost- Jones
Myfanwy graduated from MTU Crawford College of Art & Design with a first-class honours degree in Fine Art having previously studied Visual Art at TU Dublin, Sherkin Island. Working as an artist and oyster farmer based in the West of Ireland; Myfanwy’s work examines the complicated relationships between land, labour and ecology in a rural space. Embracing the sublime, her work investigates the dark histories of the past whilst acknowledging the picturesque allure of the rural landscape. Her work layers conflicting histories of colonialism and invasion with current issues of biodiversity and coastal erosion, combining photography and moving image installation with the use of text to create a poetic narrative. Passionate about environmental sustainability, biodiversity and local food networks, Myfanwy’s work looks at rural life and the changes inherent in the working landscape as we enter the Anthropocene.
Her work entitled ‘Invasive Species’ is an immersive site-specific installation. This includes Invasion Stories, a self-published 50-page linen covered book, combining text and photography to investigate the stories of invasion, colonisation, land and labour. Myfanwy uses footage from her dslr camera, drone and iPhone camera in combination with text that floats meditatively across the images. Ambient sounds from the site join the sound of local children blowing into glass bottles from the shore.
The 2022 RDS Visual Art Awards exhibition will take place in the RDS Concert Hall from October 21-29. The opening hours are 10.30am-5.30pm (last entry 5pm). The exhibition is free entry and no booking is required.