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Paul Seawright Wins Glen Dimplex Artists Award

The winner of the 1997 Glen Dimplex Artists Award is photographic artist Paul Seawright. The £15,000 award, sponsored by the Irish-based company Glen Dimplex in association with the Irish Museum of Modern Art, was presented this evening (Monday 26 May) by Dr Ciarán Benson, Chairperson of the Arts Council, at a dinner at the museum.

The Glen Dimplex Artists Award is designed to mark a significant level of achievement or development in the work and practice of exhibiting artists. The 1996 award was open to Irish artists who had exhibited in Ireland or elsewhere from 1 October 1995 to 31 October 1996 and to non-Irish artists who had exhibited in Ireland in the same period. Paul Seawright was nominated for his exhibition Police Force. Based on unprecedented access to the RUC's operations over a prolonged period the exhibition takes a look ‘behind the scenes’. Avoiding the narrative description of hard news reportage or documentary photography, it explores the material conditions and psychological spaces of police sub-culture. The exhibition was shown at the Photographers’ Gallery, London, in 1995 and was toured to Europe and the USA by the Gallery of Photography, Dublin, in 1996-97.

Paul Seawright’s photoworks emerge as a series of fragmentary images. His camera moves furtively inspecting areas normally unseen or unnoticed, distorting and reshaping the familiar. Since 1988 his work, offering a different more intimate reading of the politics and culture of Northern Ireland, has been widely exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the USA and Europe. Born in Belfast in 1965, Paul Seawright lives and works in Newport, Wales.
Commenting on Seawright’s work Declan McGonagle, Director of the museum and Chair of the jury panel, said: “Paul Seawright’s photographs are extremely powerful representations of the effects of the conflict in the north. They represent a world inside and outside the barricaded environment of police stations and pubs, where normal social activity becomes abnormal. Seawright’s photographs combine the language of traditional art and hard contemporary reality.”

The other artists shortlisted for the 1997 award were sculptors Stephen Craig and Dorothy Cross, painter Willie McKeown, multi-media artist Maurice O’Connell, and Phelan/McLoughlin, who work in a variety of media. All six shortlisted artists are paid a fee of £1,000. Lochlann Quinn, Deputy Chairman of Glen Dimplex, said that as a leading manufacturing company employing 6,000 people worldwide, Glen Dimplex was very pleased to be associated with six young artists whose work had achieved recognition in the highly competitive world of international contemporary art.

The Glen Dimplex Artists Award was first made in 1994 when the winner was multi-media artist Alanna O’Kelly. The 1995 winner was video and photographic artist Willie Doherty and the winner in 1996 was the American installation artist and sculptor Janine Antoni.

The jury for the 1997 award was Declan McGonagle, Director, Irish Museum of Modern Art (Chair of jury); Chris Dercon, Director, Boymons-Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam; Dr Margaret Downes, Chairman, BUPA Ireland, and Director, Bank of Ireland; Aidan Dunne, Art Critic, The Sunday Tribune; Chrissie Illes, Head of Exhibitions, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford; Gillian Bowler, former Chair of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and Brenda McParland, Curator : Head of Exhibitions, Irish Museum of Modern Art.

The Glen Dimplex Artists Award Exhibition continues at the museum until 13 July.

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