Announcement of the 2021 Golden Fleece Award Winners

The Trustees are delighted to announce the winners of the 2021 Golden Fleece Award in a special video presentation celebrating twenty years of the Golden Fleece Trust.

The Trustees of the Golden Fleece Award are thrilled to announce the six winners of the 2021 Golden Fleece Award, each of whom receives an Award of €10,000. They are: Aideen Barry (multimedia / sculpture / installation), Bassam Al-Sabah (multimedia / CGI filmmaking), Laura Fitzgerald (painting / installation / video), Lorna Donlon (tapestry weaving / collage / installation), Maria McKinney (sculpture / multimedia), and Sinead O'Dwyer (fashion design / textiles).

Fiona Byrne (glass), Izzy O'Reilly (fashion design), Jennifer Hickey (ceramic sculpture), and Tamsin Snow (sculpture / installation / CGI filmmaking) were also shortlisted for the 2021 Award, which attracted a record 229 applications from artists, craftspeople, makers and designers living in or originally from the island of Ireland.

2021 is an important milestone for the Golden Fleece Trust. It marks twenty years since the establishment of the Award through the bequest of its founder - the artist, educator and researcher Lillias Mitchell (1915-2000).

The mission of the Golden Fleece Award is to provide resources for practising visual, craft and applied artists to innovate and develop their artistic vision, in accordance with Lillias’ intentions as set out in her Letter of Wishes to her Trustees. In this document she states that: My wish is to give artists a 'boost' in times of particular need...”

Creative practitioners across the island of Ireland have been profoundly impacted by COVID-19. The creative sector is in crisis, and individual artists and makers face exceptional challenges amid increased financial uncertainty. The future of Irish art, craft and design is at stake. This, surely, is a time of "particular need".

In recognition of the exceptionally difficult circumstances experienced by Irish artists in the past 12 months, the Trustees of the Golden Fleece Award decided to celebrate Lillias Mitchell's legacy by increasing the twentieth anniversary prize fund to €60,000. This gesture was made possible by a very generous bequest by the estate of engineer and artist Seán Mulcahy, whose father Richard Mulcahy had invited Lillias to open a Weaving Department at the National College of Art & Design, Dublin in the 1950s when he was Minister for Education.

The 2021 prize fund of €60,000 is the largest in the Award's history, and makes it the most generous award open to both visual artists and craft practitioners in Ireland. A record 229 eligible applications were received for the Award this year, with 175 Visual Art entries and 54 Craft + Applied Art submissions.

The Golden Fleece Award Advisory Panel were extremely impressed by the high standard of applications this year. The six winning practitioners demonstrated a wide breath of practice, exploring diverse relationships of art, craft, culture and science with a considered approach to materials and techniques. Each of the exemplary winners displayed very focused visions and plans to advance their work to new levels and we look forward to seeing the results of the Award in the year ahead. Angela O'Kelly, Golden Fleece Award Advisory Panel Chair, and Head of Design for Body & Environment, NCAD
The Trustees of the Golden Fleece Award were, once again, delighted by the ever-increasing number and high standard of applications received for the 2021 Award, both from the visual arts and craft and applied arts worlds. We are delighted to be celebrating the Trust's twentieth anniversary in 2021 and very grateful to all those who have been involved with the Golden Fleece over the years. The Trustees are particularly thankful to our Advisory Panel, chaired so skilfully 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. Barbara Cotter, Chair of the Golden Fleece Award Board of Trustees