London based artist Mairéad McClean has been announced as the inaugural winner of the Ulster Bank MAC International £20,000 open arts prize which took place tonight at the MAC in Belfast. Generously supported by title sponsor Ulster Bank with funding from Northern Ireland Tourist Board and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland the competition which was open to artists from across the world attracted more than 1,000 entries from as far away as Korea, America and the Lebanon. The announcement was made by Ana Matronic from the Scissor Sisters.
The 24 shortlisted art works by 25 artists will be on display in the MAC until 18th January 2015 in a free exhibition spanning all three of its gallery spaces.
Mairéad McClean who is originally from Northern Ireland uses film and audio-visual technologies to explore connections between our inner and outer worlds. Her work is rooted in ideas borne in memory, making connections between different versions, interpretations or representations of past events. Her work for MAC International,’ No More’ incorporates images and sounds from the 1970s which are re-heard and re-viewed through computer generated tele-visual transmission signals. ‘No More’ was commended by the international judging panel Hugh Mulholland, curator at the MAC, Judith Nesbitt, Head of National and International Partnerships, TATE London and Francesco Bonami, Artistic Director of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin for being visually captivating.
Hugh Mulholland said, “From the first moment the judges seen the work during the adjudication stage we were enthralled. The thirteen minute long piece while located in the politics of Northern Ireland could be viewed and understood right across the world. The underlying themes of containment and expression of freedom could apply to anywhere.”
Hugh Mulholland added: “MAC International is one of the most significant additions to the visual arts community in recent years with all 25 artists being commended for the diversity and quality of the work. Mairead’s video installation truly reflects the level of ambition and quality evident in this exhibition and I am so delighted to honour her with this award tonight.”
Richard Donnan, Managing Director, Retail Banking at Ulster Bank, was there to congratulate the winner:
“Having been involved with the MAC from the beginning, we can see the significant impact the venue has made both economically and culturally for Northern Ireland. The MAC International attracts interest from world class artistic talent and offers local people an opportunity to engage with visual art that they may otherwise never have the chance to experience. We’re delighted to be involved with the MAC and would like to congratulate Mairead on her fantastic success.”
Kathryn Thomson, NITB Chief Operating Officer added:
“MAC International presents the very best of contemporary visual art and provides a very attractive cultural offering for all to experience and enjoy. We expect to see significant national and international interest in this innovative exhibition and many visitors from home and abroad during the next three months. It also showcases the state-of-the art MAC, a unique cultural venue in the heart of Belfast.”
Anne McReynolds, Chief Executive of the MAC said:
“We would like to sincerely thank NITB, Ulster Bank and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their generous support in helping us to deliver a competition of this magnitude. It has been a fantastic success and a tremendous achievement for a venue such as ours which is just over two years old to be able to deliver something on this scale. Pre-opening we aspired to be world class, MAC International shows that we are, but this success doesn’t happen without strong partnerships in both the public and private sector. We hope that people from Northern Ireland and far beyond will enjoy the exhibition in the weeks and months ahead.”
The exhibition is expected to attract more than 60,000 visitors through the doors during the three month run and principal funder of the MAC, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland believes the exhibition will add to the already blossoming vitality of the Cathedral Quarter as an economic driver for Belfast.
The MAC was delighted to welcome international superstar Ana Matronic from the Scissor Sisters to Belfast to make the announcement and guest DJ the after party. Ana said:
“I am delighted and honoured to be in Belfast and specifically at the MAC tonight to host the award. Art prizes of this scale and ambition don’t happen very often and as a working artist, I know that there are certain defining moments in your career and I suspect that this will be one of those moments for Mairead. I’ve already been around to see the work of all 25 artists in the galleries and I can guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed with the abundance of talent in this exhibition.”
Information on the shortlisted artists, the winner and the exhibition can be found by logging onto themaclive.com.
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