The Royal Dublin Society (RDS) Visual Art Awards is the most important platform for visual art graduates in Ireland providing vital supports and exposure for emerging artists as they move into early professional practice. As with many cultural events in the last year, the 2020 awards took a different shape. Rather than cancelling, the organisers invited art graduates to submit their final-year work for the competition online. Applications were reviewed by a team of six professional curators who longlisted forty-eight artists. A shortlist and prizes were then awarded by judges appointed by IMMA, the RHA and the National Gallery.
The resulting work is a moving and humanising insight into the lives of people who are often marginalised
With total prize funds of €30,000, the RDS awards are the largest graduate visual art prize fund in Ireland. Established in 1860, the RDS Taylor Art Award is the top prize with a purse of €10,000. This was won by Jill Beardsworth, a filmmaker based in Galway and a graduate of GMIT Centre for Creative Arts & Media. Beardsworth’s winning work was created in collaboration with ‘That’s Life’, an award-winning arts and personal development programme for people with intellectual disabilities run by the Brothers of Charity in Galway city. Seven participants from the programme were invited to sit in front of a film camera and were filmed without direction or intervention. One short film was created per participant to reflect an aspect of their personality, life experience, talent and aspiration and embody something of their inner essence. The resulting work is a moving and humanising insight into the lives of people who are often marginalised.
Two graduates from TU Dublin School of Creative Arts won awards of €5,000; The RC Lewis-Crosby prize went to Maria Maarbjerg, and Michelle Malone was awarded the RDS Whyte’s Award. The RHA Graduate Studio Award was won by Dominique Crowley from NCAD; also from NCAD, Nadia Armstrong was awarded the RDS Centre Culturel Irlandais Residency Award, supported by Mason Hayes & Curran.