The Trustees of the Golden Fleece Award are very pleased to announce that Cork-based multimedia artist Ailbhe Ní Bhriain is the winner of the 2020 Golden Fleece Award. She receives the main award, worth €15,000. Two Golden Fleece Special Awards are being presented to jeweller / silversmith Annemarie Reinhold (€10,000) and painter Kathy Tynan (€5,000). Visual artist Laura Fitzgerald and jeweller/engraver Pierce Healy were also shortlisted for the 2020 Award. The 2020 Golden Fleece Award was to be presented at a ceremony at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Ely Place, on 25 March 2020, but due to the measures currently in place to help contain the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) the announcement was made online instead. This year the Award attracted a record 215 applications from artists living in or originally from the island of Ireland.
Now in its nineteenth year, the Golden Fleece Award was initially restricted to craft and figurative visual art. In 2018 the criteria were broadened to include artists working across all forms of visual, craft and applied arts. This year’s prize fund of €30,000 makes the Golden Fleece Award the most generous art prize open to both visual artists and craft practitioners/makers in Ireland.
As part of the application process artists and makers are asked to submit images of recent work along with a statement outlining how the Award would make a decisive difference to their careers. Past winners have cited needs varying from preparing for future exhibitions to purchasing specialist materials, acquiring new studio space and tools or travelling abroad to learn new skills. This year there was a definite emphasis on applicants’ desire to buy themselves the time and space needed to sustain and develop their practices.
Ailbhe Ni Bhriain describes her practice, combining film, photography and installation, as conjuring “images of dreamlike hybridity”. She plans to start working with tapestry and bronze, a big departure from the video and computer-based work she has been making to date. The Golden Fleece Award will allow her to invest time, research and funds into the material aspect of her practice – in particular a deeper exploration of Jacquard tapestry and bronze casting.
Annemarie Reinhold is a jeweller whose declared aim is “to create unique engaging sculptural and wearable objects”. Her inspiration is botanical, found in nature itself. She is currently working on a range of pear bowls and vegetable-inspired spoons. Following time spent formally developing her skills at NCAD, Grennan Mill Craft School and Bishopsland, she will use her Golden Fleece Special Award to establish and equip her own studio.
Kathy Tynan has been making work for the last ten years. Her paintings and drawings focus on the urban and domestic, homing in on overlooked or awkward details of her everyday surroundings. Her Golden Fleece Special Award will enable her to focus on making a new body of work relating to the Dun Emer Guild, expanding her practice beyond painting to encompass theatre and set design while developing partnerships with performance professionals.
“The Golden Fleece Award has established itself as one of the most central and supportive awards for artists and craftspeople at a pivotal moment of their careers. The standard of applications is outstanding and a tribute to the professionalism within the creative community. I would urge all that applied but were not shortlisted this year to continue to apply in the future. As I conclude my term as Chair of the Advisory Panel I want to express my thanks to my fellow panelists for their hard work and dedication and thank the Trustees for affording me the privilege to be involved with the Award.”
– Patrick T. Murphy, Golden Fleece Advisory Panel Chair and Director, RHA
The award was established as a charitable bequest by the late Helen Lillias Mitchell (1915-2000). The Golden Fleece Award is governed by a Board of Trustees which includes members of Lillias Mitchell’s family, professional fund managers, consultants and arts professionals who work closely together to fulfill her wishes.
They are supported by a distinguished advisory panel whose knowledge and experience are invaluable in guiding the development of the Award. This is made up of Patrick T. Murphy (Panel Chair and Director of the Royal Hibernian Academy), Angela O’Kelly (jeweller and Head of Design for Body & Environment, NCAD); Ann Mulrooney (creative industries leader); Catherine Marshall (art historian, editor and curator) and Dr Declan Long (art critic and Co-Director of the MA ‘Art in the Contemporary World’, NCAD).