New annual Irish portrait prize worth €20,000 announced
Hennessy join forces with National Gallery of Ireland in new award
At the launch of the Hennessy/National Gallery of Ireland inaugural portrait prize, from left: judges Donald Teskey, Janet McLean, Cristín Leach Hugh and Dr Declan Long. The portraits shown are Evie Hone by Hilda van Stockum and Seamus Heaney by Jackie Nickerson. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
The Hennessy Portrait Prize, aimed at raising the public profile of contemporary portraiture, has been launched by Hennessy and the National Gallery of Ireland. Intended as an annual award to an Irish portrait artist, the prize will be worth €15,000 to the winner, together with a €5,000 commission to produce a portrait of a designated Irish sitter, for inclusion in the National Portrait Collection at the National Gallery of Ireland.
Two works from the collection were on view at the launch – Hilda van Stockum’s painting of fellow artist Evie Hone and Jackie Nickerson’s photographic portrait of the late Seamus Heaney, acquired in 2012.
The latter was there to emphasise that entrants are not confined to the traditional painted portrait.“We have 19th-century daguerreotypes, but Jackie’s is among the first modern photographic portraits added to the collection,” gallery director Seán Rainbird, the chairman of the judging panel, said. “It took us that long to accept a medium invented something like 170 years ago, so maybe the next stage will be one invented 50 years ago – video. Why not?”
His view was echoed by Caroline Sleiman, market development manager for Moët Hennessy. “The work can be in any medium, and we want to attract artists of all ages. We might discover someone completely unknown, or it might be someone who is well-established.”
Entrants, who must be Irish, although they can be resident abroad, must apply online at nationalgallery.ie. The deadline is July 31st and the entries will be whittled down to a shortlist of 12, whose work will be exhibited at the National Gallery of Ireland next November.
The prizewinner will be announced at the opening of the exhibition.