Winners of 2021 Zurich Portrait and Zurich Young Portrait Prize revealed

A portrait of a mother practicing healing methods on her son has been revealed as the winner of the National Gallery of Ireland’s Zurich Portrait Prize. And Della Cowper-Gray was announced as the winner of this years Zurich Young Portrait Prize.

Me Ma Healing Me by Salvatore of Lucan was announced as the winning portrait at a virtual ceremony to mark this year’s National Gallery of Ireland’s Zurich Portrait Prize.

A portrait of a mother practicing healing methods on her son has been revealed as the winner of the National Gallery of Ireland’s Zurich Portrait PrizeMe Ma Healing Me by Salvatore of Lucan was announced as the winning portrait at a virtual ceremony to mark this year’s National Gallery of Ireland’s Zurich Portrait Prize. As well as a prize of €15,000, the artist will receive a commission worth €5,000 to produce a new work for the National Portrait Collection. This is Salvatore’s third inclusion in the Zurich Portrait Prize.

Vanessa Jones and Tom McLean received highly commended prizes to the sum of €1,500 for their respective portraits, Cabbage Baby (self-portrait) and Note to Self.

Regarding his double portrait Salvatore of Lucan said, “My mother practices sound healing and Reiki, and anytime I’m at home and feeling unwell, she offers to practice on me. I am a distant son and can be sceptical about some of the hippy stuff, but when her hands hover above me, I do feel my mother’s love, and am aware that she is trying to heal me. In making the painting I was inspired by the kind of uncanny, suspended feeling one finds in the alchemist paintings of Leonora Carrington.”

Judges for the Zurich Portrait Prize were artist Eamonn Doyle; Róisín Kennedy, art critic and Lecturer/Assistant Professor in the School of Art History & Cultural Policy, UCD; and Seán Kissane, Curator at IMMA. 

The winners were also announced for the Zurich Young Portrait Prize. Judges for the Zurich Young Portrait Prize were visual artist Aideen Barry; artist, art teacher and activist Joe Caslin; and Tadhg Crowley, Senior Curator: Education + Community at the Glucksman. Upon selecting a winner from each age category (ages 6 and under, ages 7-11, ages 12-15, ages 16-18), in addition to an overall winner, Joe Caslin said, “It was great to get into the Gallery space again. The stories in the Zurich Young Portrait Prize are beautiful, hard and carefully executed. These portraits are a snapshot of a difficult year. Congratulations to all of the artists.”

Painting in a different world now (My Father the Artist) by Della Cowper-Gray (age 14) was selected as the overall winner of the Zurich Young Portrait Prize. As well as a personalised wooden box of high quality art materials, the prize includes a €500 cash prize. In her artist’s statement, Della Cowper-Gray said, “This is a portrait of my father the artist, observing the world around him. It is a different world now since COVID-19 and artists have been greatly affected. I wanted to convey that struggle through his expression. The world has changed and so too has the  world of the artist.”

Marianna Krolik,  aged 6, won the youngest category with Mia, a portrait of her best friend who she can’t see so often since Mia moved to County Cavan. In the second category, 10-year old Ellie  Giblin won with her portrait of her grand-aunt Dolores – My Glamorous Grand-Aunt – which she created  in lockdown when she could not visit. Self-Portrait, a paint on canvas work of an ordinary afternoon by 15-year old Lijun Ma was the winner of the category for ages 12-15. Mia Buckley, aged 17, won the final category with Tudor, a portrait investigating the colour, light and shadow that was portrayed across the skin of her model. Each category winner is awarded a personalised box of art materials alongside a prize of €250.

Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, said, “The Zurich Portrait Prize and Zurich Young Portrait Prize continue to go from strength to strength. Since the exhibitions opened earlier this month, it has been wonderful to see our visitors engage with this impressive selection of contemporary portraiture by artists of all ages at the Gallery. We’d like to thank every artist who applied to the competitions this year, and our terrific judging panels. Our partnership with Zurich also continues to grow, and we’re delighted to be working with them once again in 2021.”

Neil Freshwater, CEO of Zurich, said, “Zurich is immensely proud to support the National Gallery of Ireland with the Zurich Portrait Prize and the Zurich Young Portrait Prize. These prizes showcase an impressive wealth of talent in contemporary portraiture, in all its varied forms. We congratulate this year’s winners Salvatore of Lucan and Della Cowper-Gray on their remarkable achievements. We also recognise all the shortlisted artists who continue to astound us with their skill and creativity. We look forward to seeing the exhibitions open in Cork in 2022.” 

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