The Trustees of the Golden Fleece Award are thrilled to announce artist and designer Richard Malone, who divides his time between Wexford and London, as the recipient of the 2023 Golden Fleece Award. He receives the main award, worth €15,000. Two Golden Fleece Special Awards worth €10,000 each are also being granted to ceramicist Cathy Burke, from Wicklow, and Laois-based woodturner Alan Meredith.
Aisling O'Beirn (installation / mixed media), Barbara Knežević (sculpture / installation / video), Clodagh Emoe (participatory events / mixed media), and Pierce Healy (metalwork / jewellery) were also shortlisted for the 2023 Award.
In his work, Richard Malone uses garment making, drawing, writing, textiles, weaving and performance to explore human truths and performed falsities. His sculptures and installations suggest an internal dialogue, movement and theatre – some appearing alive or captured in communicative postures and suspended emotion. The work intentionally crosses disciplines, questioning the nature of defined labour and the expected societal gender or class roles that they are given. He plans to use his Golden Fleece Award to purchase specialist equipment that will allow him to refine the physicality of his sculptural and performance pieces, and to continue his research into Irish folklore and queer histories using archival collections at University College Dublin and the National Library.
Cathy Burke's rugged, hand-built clay forms are defined by a characteristic use of natural glazes that reflect on nature's process of regeneration. She will use her Special Award to buy time and further develop new research that will enhance her making in a more environmentally-conscious way, focusing on ethical provenance in material selection. Alan Meredith's elegant wood-turned, steam-bent pieces straddle the boundaries of contemporary craft, architecture and sculpture, and he plans to invest in equipment that will enable him to significantly scale-up his work and begin making even more challenging, impactful forms.
The 2023 Golden Fleece Award Ceremony took place at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin on Wednesday 22 March. This year the Award attracted a record 320 applications from artists living on or originally from the island of Ireland - over 100 applications more than were submitted for the 2022 Award. The 2023 prize fund worth a total of €35,000 makes the Golden Fleece Award the most generous art prize open to both visual artists and craft practitioners/makers in Ireland.
Now in its twenty-second year, the Golden Fleece Award was established through a bequest by Dublin-born artist, educator and researcher Lillias Mitchell (1915-2000). She recognised the financial challenges faced by creative practitioners and the impact these could have on their work; in her Letter of Wishes to her Trustees she stated her desire that the Award should "give artists a 'boost' in times of particular need." Accordingly, 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 at pivotal points in the development of their work. The annual award is open to artists at any career stage who can demonstrate existing merit and expertise.
Lillias Mitchell's Trustees are supported in carrying out her wishes by the Golden Fleece Award Advisory Panel, which this year comprised Angela O’Kelly (Panel Chair, jeweller and Head of Design for Body & Environment, NCAD); Roger Bennett (woodturner); Hugh Mulholland (Creative Director, Visual Arts, the MAC); Clíodhna Shaffrey (Director, Temple Bar Gallery and Studios); and Dr. Audrey Whitty (Director, National Library of Ireland).
The standard of applications this year was outstanding, and a tribute to the professionalism within the creative sector. There was tremendous freshness, variety and ambition in the proposals which made the task of the Advisory Panel extremely difficult. Each of the shortlisted applicants displayed very focused visions and plans to advance their work to new levels, and we look forward to seeing the results of the 2023 Award in the year ahead. So many applications were deserving of the Award, and I would urge all that applied but were not winners this year to continue to apply in the future. Angela O’Kelly, Chair of the Golden Fleece Award Advisory Panel
The Trustees of the Golden Fleece Award were absolutely delighted with the unprecedented number of applications received for the 2023 Award. The quality of work submitted from both the visual arts and craft and applied arts worlds was of the highest standard. This year we are celebrating the Trust's twenty-second birthday, and to see such enthusiasm and wonderful work in the applications is a real tribute to the goodness of Lillias Mitchell, who established the Award. We are very grateful to all those who have been involved with the Golden Fleece over the years, and most particularly this year to our Advisory Panel, chaired so ably 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 Board of Trustees