Leanne highly commended
Local artist Leanne Mullene was highly commended for her entry to the 2016 Hennessy Portrait Prize which was presented at the Millennium Wing of the National Gallery of Ireland.
The overall prize was won by Limerick School of Art and Design graduate Gerry Davis, who was awarded the prize of €15,000 for his entry and receives a commission worth €5,000 to produce a portrait for inclusion in the National Portrait Collection.
For the first time, two of the other finalists were highly commended by the judges, one being Leanne Mullen for her work 'Someone's Mother'.
Leanne was prompted to enter the competition by Brian Harten and Dennis D'Arcy of Louth County Council's Arts Office.
She had exhibited 'Someone's Mother', an oil on canvass, in the group exhibition 'A Sense of Place' with fellow artists Declan Honan and Rosie Martin, in The Basement Gallery earlier this year and they suggested she enter it into the Hennesy Portrait Prize.
Leanne based her work for the show on the history of the gallery, which is located in what used to be old prison cells. She uses drawing, painting and sculpture to produce site specific works in response to places and buildings of interest.
Leanne studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and attained a MA from the University of Ulster. She combines her role as an art teacher in St Vincent's Secondary School with being a practising artist, working in a studio at her Gyles Quay home. She expressed her thanks to her fellow teachers Carmel Clyne and Caoimhe Woods in the school's art department and principal Deirdre Matthews for their support.
Over the years, Leanne has exhibited both locally and nationwide. In addition to the exhibition in The Basement Gallery, her work was also shown in the Verling Gallery's 'Into the Blue' exhibition in Blackrock this summer. Many of her pieces are held in both public and private collections, including public works at Dublin airport and Louth County Council.
Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Gemma Tipton commented: "Our congratulations to Gerry Davis for his winning portrait of Seán And to the highly commended artists, Gavan McCullough and Leanne Mullen for their portraits of Imran and Someone's Mother respectively. Their work, and that of all the finalists, reflects the extraordinary diversity of humanity and the talent of these brilliant artists in capturing that, and reflecting it back to us. These art works are all also people, people that I almost feel I have now met. I would like to thank my fellow judges on the panel and all the artists who entered the competition.'
Now in its third year, the Hennessy Portrait Price received over 400 entries, encompassing a wide range of media and materials, by artists living in Ireland and Irish artists abroad.
The Hennessy Portrait Prize was launched in March 2014. Open to artists in all disciplines, it aims to encourage interest in contemporary portraiture, and to raise the profile of the National Portrait Collection at the National Gallery of Ireland.
The work of the 14 finalists, chosen by the judging panel comprising of Co Louth based photographer Jackie Nickerson, Gemma Tipton (art critic), Dr Adriaan Waiboer (Head Curator, National Gallery of Ireland) and Peter Murray (Director of the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork), can be seen in the National Gallery of Ireland until Sunday, March 26, 2017.