Announcement of Markievicz Awards 2020

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D., has announced the 2020 recipients of the Markievicz Award, the second year of this bursary scheme for artists and writers, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of the appointment of the first female cabinet minister, Constance de Markievicz, in 1919.

The Award Scheme is an initiative of Minister Madigan under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023.  The Arts Council oversaw administration of the scheme and the award winners announced today by the Minister are Amanda Coogan (Visual Arts), Cal Folger Day (Music), Belinda McKeon (Theatre), Julie Merriman (Visual Arts) and Joanna Walsh (Literature).  Each will receive an award of €20k under the scheme.

The Markievicz Award both honours Constance de Markievicz – herself an artist – and provides support for artists from all backgrounds and genres in producing new work that reflects on the role of women in the period covered by the centenary commemorations and beyond.

Minister Madigan remarked “The awards take on a particular significance this year in the midst of a time of great challenge for the Arts Community and Irish society.  The COVID-19 public health emergency is likely to prove a defining moment in the history of this nation, and women are to the fore in meeting the many challenges posed – as clinicians, cleaners, nurses, and healthcare managers, and those working in our food stores and other vital services that support our people day in day out. Many other women are working hard to maintain some normalcy for our children via the virtual classroom, while others are caring for the most vulnerable in our society in a variety of residential settings that have been severely impacted by the virus”.

She added “The arts were pivotal in the struggle for freedom, and have also been seen to play an important role today – both providing important inspiration and hope in a difficult time, but also reflecting and recording these historic times.  The stories of contemporary women, their experiences and their massive contribution will no doubt inspire the artistic community to develop new and original work over the period ahead, and the Markievicz Award will help to support artists in so doing.”

Other initiatives that are supporting artists at the present time are Ireland Performs, a €120,000 Culture Ireland short-term relief fund to pay professional Irish artists for the presentation of their work online; Courage, a series of live music performances from Other Voices; and a €1 million Arts Council COVID-19 Crisis Response Award.

Minister Madigan congratulates each of the Markievicz Award recipients for 2020 and wishes them well in applying the award to underpinning their practice and further developing their craft.  The Minister’s intention and sincere hope is that each of the award recipients will thrive and go on to produce authentic and original work in the coming years.

The bursaries are intended to improve the representation over time of the roles, experiences and ambition of women through new work in a wide variety of art forms – in tandem with this enhanced representation of women, the awards also connect to the theme of representation by women in public and political life.

In that context, Minister Madigan described de Markievicz as “an iconic pioneer, but just one of many formidable women of her era whose stories are still being revealed to us.  The theme of these bursaries serves as a further reminder that we still have a way to travel on the road to full equality in Irish public and political life”.

Additionally, the Minister said that “Only 129 women have been elected to the Dáil since de Markievicz achieved that milestone in 1918 and just 19 of us have been appointed to cabinet over the last 100 years.  At the most recent General Election there was a woman candidate in all 41 constituencies for the first time ever, but there is great disappointment that women did not significantly increase their representation in the Dáil in February.  However, I take heart from the fact that 29 of the 36 women now in the Dáil have been elected since 2016, myself included – we 36 represent a very strong foundation for building increased female representation in future elections to ultimately realise a truly representative national parliament.”

The Arts Council supported the Department in developing the scheme and the Minister thanked the Council for delivering the Awards “in a very professional and timely manner, particularly so given the current public health emergency”.  The Minister and her officials consider the Council to be an invaluable partner in delivering the scheme.

Artists’ Biographies

Amanda Coogan 

​Amanda is an internationally recognised and critically acclaimed artist working across the medias of live art, performance, photography and video. She is one of the most dynamic and exciting contemporary visual artist’s practicing in the arena of performance.

Her extraordinary work is challenging, provocative and always visually stimulating.  Her expertise lies in her ability to condense an idea to its very essence and communicate it through her body. Using gesture and context she makes allegorical and poetic works that challenge expected contexts.

Cal Folger Day 

Cal Folger Day is an American composer and performer based in Dublin, Ireland. She is currently making a new commissioned musical for Dublin Youth Theatre, directed by Tom Creed, to be performed in August 2020. The Woods and Grandma, a verbatim pop-opera about Lady Gregory, won the Little Gem award in the 2017 Dublin Fringe.

An RTÉ Lyric FM documentary on the piece was nominated for the Prix Italia, Prix Europa, and New York Radio Festivals. A live studio recording was mixed and mastered by Forest Christenson (Dunsink, Blade Runner) in Los Angeles, and it’s been produced in Coole Park for Culture Night and at the Dunsink Observatory as part of the Festival of Curiosity.

As a songwriter, Cal has performed with Angel Olsen, Jeffrey Lewis, St. Lenox, and the comedian Jena Friedman.
“A guitarist and chanteuse with jazz leanings, whose vocal control and stage presence command attention” (The New Yorker). “At the Roots of the Stars is one of the finest pieces I’ve ever seen. Fun, reflective, beautiful, important” (Scott Holzman, Chase Public).

Belinda McKeon 

Belinda McKeon, born in County Longford, is a novelist and playwright. Her most recent play, Nora, was staged by The Corn Exchange as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2017. Her novels, Solace (2011) and Tender (2015) were both Irish bestsellers. She lives in New York and teaches at Rutgers University. With the Markievicz Award, she will work on a site-specific play about the friendship between Constance Markievicz and Jennie Wyse Power, proprietor of a Dublin food store called Irish Farm Produce.

Julie Merriman 

Julie Merriman is a visual artist from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown in Dublin. Her work examines the history of mark making in the context of drawn, written and programmed language. Using present-day and historical data as research material, she investigates modes of inscription, replication and transmission. Julie employs obsolete office copying materials in making her work; carbon paper, typewriter film and wax stencil paper. She is currently exploring the book as a space of exhibition, a way to disseminate, promote and distribute artwork. Recent projects include: Housing Area (book), Dublin Art Book Fair, Temple Bar Gallery + Studios (2019); Visual Arts Bursary, The Arts Council (2019); DLR Lexicon Commission Award (2018); Grangegorman Public Art Commission, Pathway 6 (2018); Artist in Residence, UCD School of Engineering and Architecture (2017).

Joanna Walsh 

Joanna Walsh is the author of seven books including the digital work, seed-story.com, which will be published as in print, and as an artist’s book by No Alibis Press, Belfast, later this year. Her latest book, BREAK.UP, was published by Semiotext(e) and Tuskar Rock in 2018. Her multidisciplinary, text-based work, taking shape as print, digital, and performance pieces, playfully and rigorously explores ideas around gender, sex, labour and technology.

She is also a visual artist, critic, editor, teacher, and arts activist. The founder of #readwomen (2014-18), described by the New York Times as “a rallying cry for equal treatment for women writers”, she currently runs @noentry_arts, campaigning against ageism in the arts, and @zinesinthedark, a lockdown zine exchange. She was awarded a UK Arts Foundation fellowship in 2017. She lives in Dublin.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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