Three CCAD Alumni are shortlisted for 2018 Zurich Portrait Prize

09 October, 2018

Congratulations and best wishes goes to Debbie, Nicholas & Stephen who has been shortlisted for the National Gallery of Ireland // 2018 Zurich Protrait Prize

Press Release on this selection 

The Zurich Portrait Prize shortlist was announced this morning and now the 25 artists’ works will go on display at the National Gallery of Ireland.


Debbie Godsell

Debbie Godsell / Prism, 2017 / Photo screen print, 28 x 91cm

Prism, 2017 / Photo screen print, 28 x 91cm

"The prism is used as a metaphor for nearly everything. It can describe a way of looking or thinking about something that may cause you to understand things in a different way. I have created a photo-screen print of my son gazing at the viewer through a prism. The intention was to make the viewer aware of being gazed at instead of the other way around. How do we look at my son through his prism? Who exactly is he seeing? How do we choose to present ourselves to him? It all depends on how the light refracts and bounces. No matter where the prism is placed the light passing through it has a different reflection. We look different each time, impossible to exactly pin down."

About Artist:

Debbie Godsell graduated with a Masters in Fine Art Research in 2002 from CCAD. Since then she has been working fulltime as an artist and an art educator, specialising in printmaking. Her work is widely collected in Ireland, and features in the collections of, among others, the OPW, Crawford Municipal Gallery, Universities of Cork and Dublin, Cork Opera House and the Port of Cork. She was a recipient of the Cork County Arts Office Tyrone Guthrie Bursary Award in 2017. Debbie recently curated and exhibited in ‘Visions of Half Light’, Macroom Town Hall Gallery, funded by Cork County Arts office (July 2018). Other recent exhibitions include ‘Site’, Doswell Gallery (2018) and ‘The infinite Whatever’ at the Garter Lane Arts Centre and Cork Printmakers Gallery (2017).


Stephen Doyle

Dylan is ainm dom… / Mixed media on board (oil and neon glass)/2018 / 120 x 120 cm

Stephen Doyle
Identity, privacy, place, family and social change are among the themes addressed by the artists who have been shortlisted for this year’s National Gallery of Ireland’s Zurich Portrait Prize. A total of 25 artists from a variety of backgrounds, working across a multitude of creative disciplines, have made it through to the final stage of the competition, from an initial pool of nearly 300 entrants.

One artist, Stephen Doyle has already hit the history books as his piece, ‘Dylan is ainm dom…’ is the first piece on the walls of the National Gallery that openly discusses transgender identity. Doyle has gone on to describe his intention for the piece by saying how, " It explores contemporary concerns with self-identity in modern Ireland. To date the representation of any LGBTQ+ culture has been repressed and hidden, yet as Irish society moves toward a more inclusive future, we are expanding on what it means to be Irish. We are starting to see gender beyond what is simply assigned to us at birth. Individuals like Dylan are at the forefront of an important era in our history. This portrait is not only a declaration of self-identity, but is also about national identity.
The setting is a park near Dylan’s home in Lucan, Co. Dublin. The familiar landscape gives the sitter an immediate connection to his heritage. The medium of oil paint extends this sense of tradition, while the use of bold neon implies an ‘otherness’. It holds the shape of the natural landscape yet is set apart. This juxtaposition is not unlike how queer culture has developed outside wider society. It has its own language and customs but is still woven into the fabric of our society. The acknowledgement and embrace of minorities is necessary in the pursuit of a more equal Ireland and progression as a society."

About Artist:
Stephen Doyle is a Cork-based artist and graduate of CIT Crawford College of Art and Design (2017). Doyle’s work references queer identity and queer culture through painting and instillation. For his graduate show, he received the Student of the Year Award which included a solo exhibition, ‘Alt Masc’ in the Lavit Gallery and a residency at Backwater Studios. Since graduating last year he has been shortlisted for various international awards including the UK Emerald Winter Pride Art Award and a recipient of the Sunny Art Prize and the overall winner of the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize.
Exhibition curator Brendan Rooney added: “We were delighted not just with the positive response to the portrait competition, now in its fifth year, but with the high quality of the submissions. The judges were faced with the onerous task of whittling down a hugely impressive variety of works in different media to just 25. They have presented us with a rich and exciting shortlist, and we await their final decision with great anticipation.”


Nicholas Benedict Robinson

Mary-Kate Lanigan, 2018, Oil on birchwood, 94 x 60cm

Nicholas Benedict Robinson
"I contacted Kilkenny model Mary-Kate Lanigan to ask her to pose for me after I saw an article mentioning her in the Irish Independent. She very kindly agreed and the collaboration produced a charcoal drawing and this oil portrait. Visually I wanted to create simple black and white masses in the choice of background, the clothing, and Mary-Kate’s features. In London I had seen an Ilya Repin portrait called Portrait of Baroness Varvara Ikskul von Hildenbandt, which had a long bookmark-shaped frame with a similar white background and simple masses of colour. The composition and style in this Repin portrait prompted my approach to this painting. The portrait is almost life-size. I hope that working as close to life-size as possible adds to any sense of presence the painting may have. I tried to convey the natural gentleness I felt was apparent in her expression, gesture and her face itself. In my experience having a good model can really make the work and I was extremely fortunate in this case to find someone both so professional and good-natured to pose for me."

About Artist:

Nicholas Benedict Robinson is currently teaching figurative painting and drawing from life in various venues around the country. This allows him to paint and draw in his studio in Wicklow, his home county. He has exhibited in, among other recent group shows in Ireland, the RUA and RHA annual exhibitions, and was selected for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters show in London. Nicholas trained in drawing and painting from life in Sweden under Joakim Ericsson after graduating from NCAD and Crawford College of Art and Design.

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