Clonlara resident Samuel Walsh has won the most coveted award in Irish contemporary art, the €5,000 Savills Arts Prize, for his substantial contribution to the visual arts in Ireland.
The winner was announced from a shortlist of four contenders including John Gibbons, another Clare-based artist, Charles Tyrrell from Meath and Dublin sculptor Janet Mullarney.
“I am thrilled to award the Savills Art Prize to Samuel Walsh for his outstanding contribution to the visual arts in Ireland,” said Savills Ireland managing director Angus Potterton. “At Savills, we celebrate creativity in the community and are proud to support this significant event for Ireland’s leading artistic talent.”
Walsh, whose parents hail from Limerick and Ennis, is a multiple award-winning abstract painter. Describing his surprise at winning the Savills Prize in light of the other artists nominated, he said, “Art is a lifetime vocation, not a weekend job, and this prize is a confirmation that if you keep your focus and, hopefully, keep producing good work, then it will pay off.”
Walsh has been described as one of the finest draughtsmen in the country. One of the Ireland’s leading exponents of abstract art, he is the founder of the National Collection of Contemporary Drawing that hangs in the Limerick City Gallery of Art.
Also a member of Aosdana, Samuel Walsh is closely associated with the beginnings of the Limerick Exhibition of Visual Art and has taught at many institutions including NCAD, the National Gallery of Ireland and the Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art in France.
His win was made public at Vue 2017, Ireland’s national contemporary art fair at the Royal Hibernian Academy. “This is only the third year the Savills Art Prize has been presented at Vue and we hope the award will become as important to Irish art as the Turner Prize is in the UK,” said organiser Louis O’Sullivan.