Monday, April 4, 2011

An unexpected win - 1st Alliance Francaise Photography Award

Last Thursday night I headed up to Dublin for the opening of the 1st Alliance Francaise Photography Award Exhibition. It’s a funny thing, being up for an award, even though you are willing your name to be announced, it is quite shocking when you hear it. I was up there behind the microphone before I realized, caught my breath -eventually- and said my few words. It is completely thrilling. Any one of us four finalists were worthy of the prize, and congratulations to the other finalists, Joby Hickey, Doreen Kennedy & Jean Luc Morales.

Claire Bourgeois, Director of Alliance Francaise, announces the Award winner.

Initially a reason for applying was to have my work seen by the esteemed judges, and I was hoping to get to the final four to be part of the exhibition at Alliance Francaise but I had not seen past that to actually winning the award! I really just wanted to have my work seen, so this was a huge & wonderful surprise.

The prize is a 2 week residency in the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris- flights and accommodation- a €600 grant courtesy of the Ireland Fund of France, a course in Alliance Francaise to brush up on my French before I go, and a one-to-one tutorial with Vermillion Design.

The residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris is a very valuable part of many Irish artists' resumes. Some of the people who have spent time there include; Anthony Haughey who was one of the judges and gave me advice on the night regarding the residency - Martin Healy who did his Masters at Crawford College of Art, as I did, and whose thesis I had studied in the library - and poets Paul Durcan and Michael Coady whose work I am very fond of.

I'm beside myself with excitement to have two weeks to immerse myself in my work. I have already been researching architectural spaces to visit and make images of, and curators to visit who might be interested in my work. I hope to be able to make my visit during Paris Photo, and partake in their portfolio reviews and shows.

My family were there to help me celebrate the award

I dedicate my win to Maureen Connolly from Belmullet, Co Mayo, our family friend and the mother of my brother’s wife Rita, who died last month. Maureen was someone who believed in finding out what you were put on the planet to do, and in finding happiness and fulfillment in what we do and how we live. We have had great conversations over the years, especially during my residency in North Mayo and while making the 'Continuum' body of work. She encouraged me hugely and would have been so happy that I won this award.

Winning this award has been a huge achievement for me but it also makes me realise that I am not an island. Getting to this stage with my work is the result of much support and help from so many people, so I sincerely thank everyone who has had any input in my receiving this award and everyone who shares in my excitement. A huge thank you to my family and friends for their support and encouragement. Thank you to Claire Bourgeois, Marine Laniray, Francoise Brung and the staff of Alliance Francaise in Dublin for organising this exhibition. Thank you to the judges for the kind words you said about my work. And thank you for the warm congratulations from colleagues and from those who have written so generously about the win.

The 1st Alliance Francaise Award Exhibition continues in Alliance Francaise, 1 Kildare St., Dublin until 11 May.

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