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Presidential approval for honoured artists

VISUAL artist Camille Souter and composer Seoirse Bodley were honoured yesterday by President Mary McAleese at a ceremony to mark their election as Saoithe in Aosdana.

Both were presented with a gold Torc, a symbol of the office of Saoi, by the President.

There can only be seven Saoithe at any one time and the honour recognises "singular and sustained distinction in the arts".

Mrs Souter and Mr Bodley now join the five other current Saoithe -- Louis Le Brocquy, Anthony Cronin, Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney and Patrick Scott.

The 233 members of Aosdana, the Irish affiliation of creative artists, nominate and elect a Saoi and, once awarded, the title is kept for life.

Previous Saoithe include Samuel Beckett, Sean O Faolain, Patrick Collins, Mary Lavin, Francis Stewart, Tony O'Malley and Benedict Kiely.

Mr Bodley was a founder member of Aosdana when it was established in 1981.

Mrs Souter , who was born in England in 1929 but grew up in Ireland, has also been a long-standing member of Aosdana and has previously won awards such as the Landscape Award at the Oireachtas Exhibition in 1973 and the Prix de Ville de Monaco in 1977.

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