Tuesday 17 September 2019

Lisas in the frame

Margaret Roddy

Local artist Lisa Butterly and photographer Lisa McCormack have been short listed for the prestigious Zurich Portrait Prize.

Their image 'The Day You Left' will be exhibited in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin from October 5 and at the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork in early 2020..

'It is an honour to be shortlisted for the Zurich Portrait Prize,' says Lisa Butterly, who describes herself as 'a historian by profession and an artist by nature'.

The two women have been working together since 2016 on a series of portraits of men and women of Ireland.

'We have worked passionately for a number of years to create 28 portraits recognising the men and women of Ireland, our history and heritage,' says Butterly. 'The idea for this portrait collection began with a series of mind maps in a notebook and concludes with one of the portraits selected for exhibition at the National Gallery of Ireland and Crawford Art Gallery.'

In total, they created 28 portraits, featuring 75 sitters, 18 purpose-made sculptures and 2D artworks.

'As such, the collection is a legacy, grounded historically and art historically,' says Butterly. 'Each portrait is a chapter, every sitter is an actor and the stories they tell are the ones that we share as a nation.'

McCormick, who has won several awards for her wedding photography, says she is delighted to be short listed.

'There is a very high standard of entries so it is a real honour to be among them.'

She praised the work of her collaborator in coming up with the concept for the images, modestly saying that she is 'just the photographer'.

The piece short listed for this year's Zurich Portrait Prize features sitter James McQuaid gazing at a table sculpture which acts as a metaphor for emigration.

'Irish people have experienced centuries of painful separations as a result of waves of emigration,' explains Butterly. 'The life changing decision was often shared with family members sitting together at the kitchen table. As a focal point in many homes, this table respectfully and dutifully absorbed the stories, secrets and emotions of those families. In this portrait, The Day You Left, the table ripped apart to make a space for the heartache left behind.'

Butterly and McCormack are among 26 artists, working across a variety of creative disciplines, who have made it through to the final stage of the competition, which received over 300 entries.

The winner of the Zurich Portrait Prize will receive a prize of €15,000 and a commission worth €5,000 to create a new work for inclusion in the National Portrait Collection. There will also be two awards of €1,500 for highly commended works.

Also short-listed this year is the Drogheda based Els Borghart for her oil painting 'He's Not There'.

Local artists who were short-listed in previous years include Leanne Mullen, who was highly commended for her self-portrait and Sean McGuill.

The Argus