Clare artist awarded prestigious Savills Art Prize
An abstract artist who brought a sketchbook to the beach as a child when other kids played with buckets and spades has been awarded the prestigious Savills Arts Prize.
Samuel Walsh, (63), was awarded the most recognised award in contemporary art at a reception at Vue 2017, Ireland’s national modern art fair at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin last night.
Mr Walsh, who was born in London but moved to Ireland as a child and now lives in Co Clare, said his interest in art dates back to his childhood when he would draw sketches at the seaside “when other kids had a bucket and spade.”
He has been a professional artist since he was 28 and is a member of Aosdana and is credited with the beginnings of the Limerick Exhibition of Visual Art and is regarded as one of Ireland’s leading abstract artists.
He is the founder of the National Collection of Contemporary Drawing that hangs in the Limerick City Gallery of Art and has taught art at various institutions, including the National Gallery of Ireland and the National College of Art and Design.
The €5,000 Savills Art Prize is awarded to an artist who has exhibited in the last year and has made a substantial contribution to the visual arts in Ireland.
RHA director Patrick T. Murphy, said Mr Walsh was judged on his body of work, which he described as being like the visual equivalent of music.
“It’s animated. It’s not like looking at a landscape. Your eye is moving around the whole time. It’s like a rhythm to the foot,” he told the Irish Independent last night.
“It’s complex, it’s layered, it’s full of energy and it’s very exciting to look at.”
Mr Walsh attributed his success to years of honing his art.
“Art is a lifetime vocation, not a weekend job, and this prize is a confirmation that if you keep your focus and, hopefully, keep producing good work, then it will pay off,” he said.
He beat out fellow Clare resident John Gibbons, Cork-based Meath artist Charles Tyrrell and Dublin sculptor Janet Mullarney for the prize.