Latest Laois Event: Laois Artist Alan Meredith receives special mention at Golden Fleece Awards

Latest Laois Event: Laois Artist Alan Meredith receives special mention at Golden Fleece Awards

Laois Sculptor Alan Meredith receives Special Mention 

In a ceremony at the Royal Hibernian Academy, artist and designer Richard Malone was announced as the overall winner of the prestigious Golden Fleece Award, with sculptor Alan Meredith and ceramicist Cathy Burke receiving Special Mentions. 

Wexford-born, Malone’s artistic practice includes garment making, drawing, writing, textiles, weaving and performance, and his work is held in some of the world’s most important collections, including MoMA, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. With a background in fashion design, his practice intentionally crosses disciplines, questioning the nature of defined labour practices and the expected societal gender or class roles that they are given. With his Award Malone intends to refine the physicality of his sculptural and performance pieces, and to continue his research into Irish folklore and queer histories. 

Laois based Sculptor Alan Meredith will create new work that is more ambitious in terms of scale, allowing the visual impact of the wood grain and the dramatic effects of steam bending take on a new meaning. In his work using native Irish oak, the growth rings become more impactful and decades, if not centuries, of wood growth become apparent in order to tell the story of the tree and present the material in a new and most interesting light. Fellow Special Award recipient, Wicklow artist Cathy Burke, who also received a Special Mention, makes work that comments on the precarious state of our environment. She plans to use her Award to enhance her research into glazing techniques and making in a more environmentally conscious way.

Established by Lillias Mitchell to provide resources for practising contemporary visual artists and makers to innovate and develop their artistic vision, the Golden Fleece Award is the largest of its kind in Ireland, and this year the prize fund is worth €35,000 in total. 

Speaking at the ceremony, Angela O’Kelly, Chair of the Golden Fleece Award Advisory Panel said: “The standard of applications this year was outstanding, and a tribute to the professionalism within the creative sector. There was tremendous freshness, variety and ambition in the proposals which made the task of the Advisory Panel extremely difficult. Each of the shortlisted applicants displayed very focused visions and plans to advance their work to new levels, and we look forward to seeing the results of the 2023 Award in the year ahead. So many applications were deserving of the Award, and I would urge all that applied but were not winners this year to continue to apply in the future.”

Barbara Cotter, Chair of the Board of Trustees added: “The Trustees of the Golden Fleece Award were absolutely delighted with the unprecedented number of applications received for the 2023 Award. The quality of work submitted from both the visual arts and craft and applied arts worlds was of the highest standard. This year we are celebrating the Trust’s twenty-second birthday, and to see such enthusiasm and wonderful work in the applications is a real tribute to the goodness of Lillias Mitchell, who established the Award.  We are very grateful to all those who have been involved with the Golden Fleece over the years, and most particularly this year to our Advisory Panel, chaired so ably and generously by Angela O’Kelly. We offer our heartiest congratulations to the recipients of the Award this year, and also to all who were shortlisted.”

The 2023 Golden Fleece Award had a distinguished Advisory Panel whose knowledge and experience were invaluable in guiding the development of the Award this year. The Panel includes: Angela O’Kelly (Panel Chair, jeweller and Head of Design for Body & Environment, NCAD); Roger Bennett (woodturner); Hugh Mulholland (Creative Director, Visual Arts, the MAC); Clíodhna Shaffrey (Director, Temple Bar Gallery + Studios) and Dr. Audrey Whitty (Director, National Library of Ireland and former Deputy Director, National Museum of Ireland).

The full list of artists and makers shortlisted for the 2023 Award were: Cathy Burke; Clodagh Emoe; Pierce Healy; Barbara Knežević, Richard Malone, Alan Meredith and Aisling O’Beirn. 

About The Golden Fleece Award:

Artist and educator Helen Lillias Mitchell (1915-2000) was “very conscious of the fact that many artists cannot develop their talents because their art does not bring in a steady income for them and yet they need to support themselves financially”, in order to help artists and makers pursue their careers, leading to her setting up the charitable bequest. 

First taught art, aged 11, by Elizabeth (Lollie) Yeats, Lillias went on to study painting at the Royal Hibernian Academy School and sculpture at the National College of Art. She later became a weaver and focused on preserving and teaching the traditional skills of spinning, dyeing and weaving. She set up the weaving department in NCAD in 1951.

The Golden Fleece Award consists of one or more major Awards, to which smaller Special Awards may be added. The prize fund fluctuates from year to year but generally amounts to at least €20,000 overall. How the fund is divided among recipients and distributed in any given year is at the Trustees’ discretion. In recent years, Awards of €12,000, €10,000, €5,000, €4,000 and €3,000 have been made. 


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