RUA Annual Exhibition

Tony McGill

Craig McDonald

Jack Packenham


There were 2,000 entries to the Royal Ulster Academy’s annual exhibition this year, of which 332 were selected to exhibit and 13 awarded prizes. Dedication was to the fore: Tony McGill’s small acrylic landscape May I Still Meet My Memory In So Lonely a Place (a quote from Ted Hughes’ poem The Horses) was hung so close to the floor that the only way you could see it properly was to go down on your hands and knees. However, it didn’t go unnoticed and was awarded the Paul Henry Landscape Prize, while Simon McWilliams’ large oil-on-canvas Ever Red Window scooped the Gold Medal award.

By and large, most of the awards went to conventional works. Artists who tried to do something different, such as Graham Gingles, Bob Sloan and Neil Shawcross, did not feature in the prizegiving. However, the painter Jack Pakenham got his due, receiving the Irish News Prize for a work depicting the theme of ‘Ireland Today’. There was a superb Mark Shields collage on canvas, False Door, which earned him the John Richardson Bursary Award. Jennifer Trouton displayed a skilful pen drawing, Outpost 1, which was awarded the Drawing Prize.

A clever and subtle landscape etching by ​Oisín​ McDonnell, which looked rather like a folding screen that had been partially opened, entitled Eternity in an Hour, won the KPMG Young Artist Award. Tim Shaw secured the Sculpture Prize with, for him, a surprisingly conventional bronze group depicting mummers, while his namesake, Stephen Shaw, took the Anna Young Bursary Award for mid-career painters.

RHA President Abigail O’Brien received the Silver Medal Award and Brian Ballard the Outstanding Artist Award, while Richard Lawlor got the Printmaking Prize, Barbara Allen the Watercolour Prize and Craig Donald the Portrait Prize.

Brian McAvera