Aosdána, the affiliation of creative artists in Ireland today elected 8 new members at its General Assembly at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, bringing its total membership to 250. Those elected were visual artist Shane Cullen, visual artist Rita Duffy, writer Mia Gallagher, visual artist Stephen Lawlor, writer Owen McCafferty, writer Mike McCormack, visual artist Isabel Nolan, writer Sean O’Reilly.
At the meeting, members expressed their deep sadness at the deaths of former members Philip Casey, Stephen McKenna, Val Mulkearns, Richard Murphy, Tom Murphy (Saoi), Liam Ó Muirthile, Patrick Pye and Barbara Warren all of whom have died since the last assembly. A minute's silence was observed in their memory.
Aosdána was established in 1981 by the Arts Council in order to honour those artists whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland. Membership of Aosdána, which is by peer nomination and election, is limited to 250 living artists, who have produced a distinguished body of work. The membership includes creative artists working in a wide range of disciplines including architecture, choreography, music, literature and the visual arts. Aosdána members are eligible to receive a ‘cnuas’ from the Arts Council - an annuity for a term of five years - to assist them in concentrating their time and energies in the full-time pursuit of their art.
New member biographies:
Shane Cullen was born in Longford in 1957. He studied painting and drawing at Sligo IT. He first started exhibiting his work publicly in 1979. Since 1991, he has been exhibiting his work in Europe, the Middle East and North America. He represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 1995 and at the Lodz Biennale in Poland in 2004. His work is held in public and private collections both in Ireland and abroad. His art is concerned with documenting changes and events of historical or political importance which affect the everyday lives of his generation and his contemporaries.
Rita Duffy was born in Belfast and holds a BA and MA in Fine art from University of Ulster. One of Ireland's ground-breaking artists initiating major collaborative art projects she is an Honorary Member of the Royal Society of Architects for developmental work in the built environment. Duffy is also an associate at the Goldsmiths College London she collaborated on artistic exchange with Argentina looking at the role of art in post conflict societies. Her Belfast studio practice of 25 years moved comfortably between gallery-based exhibitions and acclaimed public art projects: Drawing the Blinds at Divis Tower; The Thaw iceberg to Belfast project; The Shirt Factory Derry 2013. The Souvenir Shop was commissioned by the Arts Council for Dublin 2016, a year of remembering wars and revolution. Souvenir toured Ireland, developing new iterations for CCI Paris, The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh 2017, with Brussels and Manchester on the schedule. Currently resident in former Ballyconnell Courthouse, she continues to explore issues of identity, working in a specific border context. Her recent ‘Soften the Border Project’ attracted global media coverage and gave voice to the local experience loaded with creative urgency in a world of increasing chaos and border obsessions.
Mia Gallagher’s novels are HellFire (2006), awarded the Irish Tatler Literature Award 2007, and Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland (New Island, 2016). Her widely published short fiction was awarded the START chapbook prize (2005) and nominated for Hennessy, Fish and Trevor/Bowen awards (1990, 2003,2011). In 2016 she edited Stinging Fly’s Fear & Fantasy issue and is a contributing editor to the journal. A collection of her stories will be published by New Island in 2018. Mia has also written/devised for the theatre since 1991, touring nationally and internationally. She is now working on a new novel.
Stephen Lawlor is a printmaker and painter, born in Dublin in 1958. He lectured at IADT, in printmaking and drawing (1991-97) and was chairman of Graphic Studio Dublin, (2000-05). He has worked at print studios internationally including: Guanian, China, Galleri Astley, Sweden, Jyvaskyla Centre for Print, Finald, Paupers Press, London & Hampton Editions, USA. He participated in the 1st International Print Biennial, Lingshi China 2012 and 7th International Biennial Douro Portugal 2014. He won 1st prize at New Grounds International Print, Albuquerque NM, USA in 2013 and joint 1st at Adogi, 35th Miniprint International, Cadaques, Spain in 2015. Stephen was elected an associate member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers in London, (ARE) in 2016 and was a founder member of the International Academic Printmaking Alliance (IAPA) at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing also in 2016.
Owen McCafferty lives and works in Belfast. He has been a playwright for over 20 years. Within that time he has had over 20 plays professionally produced. His work has been performed throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe. The majority of his plays are set in his native Belfast and are written in local vernacular. A common theme is to look at the lives on the periphery of society and he is seen mainly as a post-conflict playwright. He is currently under commission to the Abbey Theatre.
Mike McCormack is the author of two short story collections Getting it in the Head and Forensic Songs, and three novels Crowe’s Requiem, Notes from a Coma and Solar Bones. He was awarded the Rooney Prize for Literature and Getting it in the Head was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. In 2006 Notes from a Coma was shortlisted for the Irish Book of the Year Award. In 2016 Solar Bones was awarded the Goldsmiths Prize and the Bord Gais Irish Novel of the Year; it was also long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize.
Isabel Nolan’s work looks at how aesthetic sensibilities and diverse ways of knowing inform worldviews. She makes objects that undertake to communicate a fundamental contingency to existence, artworks that intimate that the search for meaning and beauty is both necessary and absurd. The work is underpinned by a desire to examine and embed in material form, challenging, seductive or intense moments and meetings with both ideas and phenomena. For Nolan this exploration happens through making things in a wide range of media, whether monumental or intimate in scale, they are tentative and precarious markers of the experience of our place beneath the sun. Recent solo exhibitions/projects include Launch Pad, New York (2015); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2014); Musée d’art moderne de Saint Etienne, France (2012); The Model, Sligo, Ireland (2011); Artspace, New Zealand (2008); Gallery 2, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2008) and Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2005). In 2005, Nolan represented Ireland at the 51st Venice Biennale as part of a group exhibition, Ireland at Venice 2005.
Sean O’Reilly was born in Derry. He lived abroad for many years before publishing the short story collection Curfew and Other Stories. This was followed by the novel Love and Sleep and then The Swing of Things. In 2006 he published the experimental novella Watermark. He is a contributing editor to the literary magazine The Stinging Fly and has led a number of innovative novel writing workshops.
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