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Tuesday 24 April 2018

RHA invites Denis O'Brien's wife to exhibit work in show

James Gibbons

SHE may be the wife of one of Ireland's richest men, but Catherine O'Brien is showing that she's an artist in her own right.

The wife of telecoms billionaire Denis O'Brien features in this year's annual Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) exhibition with a photographic work entitled Twin Reflection.

It is an edition of 10 and there are 10 available, with a price tag of €1,000 for framed pieces and €500 for unframed.

More than half of the 489 exhibits on show belong to members of the academy, who can show up to six pieces each.

Mrs O'Brien was one of the invited artists and did not exhibit through the open-submission process.

All invited artists receive a letter of invitation from the RHA Council.

A selection committee of six viewed more than 2,600 pieces of work over a five-day period from a record number of 1,272 artists.

The committee of six academicians who adjudicate the open submission process included Mr O'Brien's sister Abigail O'Brien, who last October replaced David Crone as secretary of the academy.

Abigail O'Brien is the first female secretary in the history of the RHA. She was joined on the selection committee by Gary Coyle, Michael Cullen, Joe Dunne, Michael Quane and Donald Teskey.

This year's catalogue, which was edited by Abigail O'Brien, features highlights of the works on view and includes Catherine O'Brien's work.

In keeping with tradition, the addresses of the artists are given in the back of the catalogue and Mrs O'Brien's is listed as Shrewsbury Road, Dublin 4 – the multimillion-euro red-brick mansion that Mr O'Brien bought from Tony Kilduff in 2006.

The president of the RHA, Des McMahon, thanks Mr Kilduff – a director of Giraffe Childcare, which was in the news for all the wrong reasons last week – in the president's preface at the front of the catalogue "for his continuing leadership in the stewardship of fundraising for the Academy's capital debt".

Mr Kilduff chaired the programme board of the RHA from its beginning in 2001 until 2008.

He now chairs the patrons' board of the RHA and is an honorary member of the academy.

New honorary members include the director of the RHA, Patrick T Murphy; the artist James Coleman; the director of the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, Sheila Pratschke; and author Colm Toibin.

The 183rd Annual Exhibition at the RHA, at the academy's gallery in Ely Place, Dublin, opened to the public yesterday and continues until August 17.

Sunday Independent

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