Mary A Kelly painting wins RCSI Art Award

Winning artist receives €5,000, RCSI silver medal and €10,000 commission

Mary A Kelly has won this year’s RCSI Art Award for her painting titled Add and subtract the marks, poke my fingers and even my head all the way through. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland announced the winner of its fourth annual art award, which recognises the connection between art and healing, at a ceremony at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) Gallery on Wednesday.

RCSI president Mr Kenneth Mealy presented Ms Kelly with €5,000 and the RCSI silver medal. She also receives a commission worth €10,000 to make a new work for the College of Surgeons’ collection.

Now in its fourth year, the RCSI Art Award in association with The Irish Times was established in recognition of the connection between art and healing.

Contemporary Irish artist and filmmaker Mary Kelly is a graduate of the National College of Art and Design (MA fine art), Dún Laoghaire College of Art and Design (film), and UCD (philosophy and psychology). She says she is intrigued by the notion of home and place and how people instinctively strive to recreate a personal space in even the most extreme environments.


Ms Kelly’s winning painting focuses on a chair as a physical object, to spark a conversation about relationships with people, objects and self. It was selected from more than 500 works on display at the 189th RHA Annual Exhibition, which runs until August 10th. All works of art, in any medium, selected for the 189th RHA Annual Exhibition were considered for the RCSI Art Award.

The other shortlisted artists were Taffina Flood, Joy Gerrard, Vera Klute and Jennifer Trouton.

“The RCSI Art Award is a celebration of the common heritage of the RCSI and RHA and the long-standing association between art, medicine and wellbeing,” said RCSI chief executive Prof Cathal Kelly. He said he looked forward to “working with the artist to create a new work for the RCSI campus that will inspire and spark a sense curiosity and wellbeing in our students and trainees while they develop as future healthcare leaders in RCSI.”

The RCSI Art Award, selected by a committee from the RCSI, RHA and The Irish Times, was established in 2016.