Saturday 16 December 2017

Exhibit A

'Rodrigo' by Jennifer O'Connor
'Rodrigo' by Jennifer O'Connor

Sophie Gorman

"Skulls are very recent. I've always painted a lot of portraits and only moved into still life properly last year – this was actually my first still life," says Cork artist Jennifer O'Connor.

"I bought a skull over the internet, a plastic one from a scientific site. It was an interesting moment, opening the box and lifting it out."

O'Connor studied fine art at the Limerick School of Art and Design, graduating in 2005. And Rodrigo, as the bobble-hat-wearing skull pictured right is known, is her first offering for the Royal Hibernian Academy's Annual Exhibition (rhagallery.ie). What's more, it was accepted.

This annual show, which opened this week, is Ireland's largest open submission exhibition and this year over 2,700 pieces were submitted, only 10pc of which made the cut, including Rodrigo.

Now in its 184th year, this annual showcase is always the place to spot new talent, and to buy before anyone else spots it, too.

It really is a hotbed of emerging talent, with new artists' works hanging on the walls beside some of our most celebrated names, creating something of a frenzy on the opening days as people scour the building in the hope of spotting the next big thing.

And it's not only paintings – the exhibition also features sculpture, print, photography, drawing and architectural models. So, as you would imagine, it's best to get in there early.

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