Nuala O’Donovan and Marcel Vidal Receive Golden Fleece Award of €12,000 Each

The trustees of the Golden Fleece Award are delighted to announce that this year Nuala O’Donovan (ceramicist) and Marcel Vidal (painter and installation artist) received a Golden Fleece award of €12,000 each. Two  special awards of €3,000 went to ceramicist Sara Flynnand photographer Dragana Jurišić.

The awards were announced at a ceremony at the RHA. The 2019 award fund is €30,000, making the Golden Fleece Award the most generous art prize open to all artists and craftmakers in Ireland. This year the prize attracted over 170 entries.

Each artist was asked to outline how they would use the prize funds should they win. Several overall themes emerged of artists requiring stable studio space to make work while others cited a need “to buy time” to make work rather than take on small time consuming projects to simply pay the day-to-day bills.

Nuala O’Donovan is a ceramicist who uses porcelain to make sculptural pieces based on the geometry of natural forms. She like many of the other artists who applied for the Golden Fleece fund expressed a need to create a secure studio space. “I have been working as an artist for ten years, I have had to move studio on average every two years and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find space to rent and to move my equipment such as kilns, desks etc that I need to make my ceramic work. Each studio move involves the expense of electricians and plumbers installing my equipment as well as moving costs and increasing rents. I hope to make a permanent studio attached to my home that will allow me enough space to work and buy some much needed studio equipment.”

The other major prize winner Marcel Vidal is a painter and installation artist and is also a member of Temple Bar Gallery + Studios until 2021. During 2018, he had a number of well received exhibitions, including a solo exhibition at The Dock Arts, Leitrim. He is now at a crucial stage in his career and the award will cover the costs of running a studio and will allow him to work full time on new projects including a solo exhibition at The Ashford Gallery, RHA in January 2020. The resources of the award will also be used to diversify his aesthetic palette of materials and techniques in sculpture to include bronze, resins, cast plaster and concrete.

Sara Flynn is from Cork and is now living in Belfast. She is a ceramicist who produces Sculptural Decorative Vessels in porcelain. She hopes to pursue this interest during a one-month residency, in a rural part of Japan (Sasama, Shizuoka) which will be followed by participation in a corresponding ceramic festival.

Dragana Jurišić is a Dublin based photographer whose practice stems from a fire that destroyed her family’s apartment in September 1991 and with it all of her father’s photography. “On that day I became one of those ‘refugees’ with no photographs, with no past. I learned then the power photography has over memory. The day after the fire was the last time my father took a photograph to record the damage for the insurance company. Where he stopped, I started.” Dragana needs to “cleave back time” from her busy schedule to create new work; in particular she would like the time to focus of a project with poet Paula Meehan focused on 14 Henrietta St.

“It is a tremendous endorsement of our late aunt Lillias Mitchell’s vision to see so many artists and makers of such excellence entering the award this year, making the advisory panel’s task a very difficult one indeed. Heartiest congratulations to the winners.” Geraldine Mitchell, niece of Lillias Mitchell and Trustee of the award.

The Golden Fleece Award was established as a charitable bequest by the late Helen Lillias Mitchell. In the past the award was limited to craft and figurative visual art, however recently the criteria were broadened to include “all forms of visual, craft and applied arts”. The award is governed by a board of trustees which includes members of Lillias Mitchell’s family, professional fund managers and arts professionals who work closely together to fulfill her wishes. They are supported by an advisory panel which includes Patrick T. Murphy, Director of the Royal Hibernian Academy (chairperson); painter Eoin Mac Lochlainn, Anne Mulrooney Director of The Science Gallery, jewelry designer and NCAD academic Angela O’Kelly; graphic artist Robert Russell.

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