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Kathleen McKenna Award 2021

Margaret Fitzgibbon, Leah Hilliard and Nicola Sheehan announced as winners of the Meath County Council Cultural Services ‘Kathleen McKenna Award’. 

As part of the Decade of Centenaries Programme 2012-2023, Solstice Arts Centre and Meath County Council Cultural Services are delighted to announce Margaret Fitzgibbon, Leah Hilliard and Nicola Sheehan as the winners of the award that commemorates the Irish republican activist and journalist Kathleen Napoli McKenna, born in Oldcastle, County Meath. 

Artists of all disciplines were invited to submit a proposal for a work, or research for a work, that reflects on Kathleen McKenna, and/or, in relation to related feminist themes within the Decades of Centenaries.

This award is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012 - 2023 initiative.

 

Below you can see the recipients project outcomes  - click to view. 

KATHLEEN | Leah Hilliard
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Preparatory notebook sketches by Margaret Fitzgibbon. Courtesy of the artist.
Preparatory notebook sketches by Margaret Fitzgibbon. Courtesy of the artist.

Margaret Fitzgibbon

Margaret Fitzgibbon’s practice fuses narrative modes including poetry, text, and collage. She recalibrates the tensions between reality and fantasy, unsettling designations of gender and identity, art and craft.

Her project Beyond Arms Reach, will include research of Kathleen McKenna’s Witness Statements in the Irish Military Archives, Cathal Brugha Barracks, and The Kathleen McKenna Napoli Papers, 1917-1979 at the National Library of Ireland. The artist aims to commemorate the brilliant professional skills, personal courage, loyalty and integrity of Kathleen McKenna, and the personal role she played in the fight for Irish independence. Following the research, Fitzgibbon will edit a series of approximately ten text snippets that will appear on a sculpture. 

Visit Margaret Fitzgibbon's Website

 

 Artist Leah Hilliard with embroidery work in preparation for her project. Courtesy of the artist.
Artist Leah Hilliard with embroidery work in preparation for her project. Courtesy of the artist.

Leah Hilliard

Leah Hilliard is an artist and educator whose practice explores her long-standing interests in technology and society, particularly in relation to the lives of women. History's emphasis on the individual male leader fostered her interest in less visible supporters, particularly the ways in which women create formal and informal networks for the transfer of information. 

Hilliard said, “I am proud to be awarded the Kathleen McKenna Award 2021 and look forward to working with Solstice Arts Centre and Meath County Council in realising my vision for an artwork that celebrates this fascinating woman, witness and contributor to one of the most significant times in Ireland’s history.” 

Her proposed artwork is a banner work with a QR code linked to a spoken word video piece. The audience will encounter this work on the billboard at the roundabout on Railway Street, Navan. The billboard image will be composed of a detailed scan of a textile banner which contains motifs relating to the story of Kathleen McKenna and will be developed over the course of her research. 

 Visit Leah Hillard's Website

Example of work by Nicola Sheehan. Helen III, Helen IV, Helen V, Helen VI, Helen VII., 2021, Series of five digital prints on Awagami Unryu 55gsm paper (183cm x 112xm), courtesy of the artist.
Example of work by Nicola Sheehan. Helen III, Helen IV, Helen V, Helen VI, Helen VII., 2021, Series of five digital prints on Awagami Unryu 55gsm paper (183cm x 112xm), courtesy of the artist.

Nicola Sheehan

Nicola Sheehan is a visual artist based in Cork. She holds a BA in Fine Art from MTU Crawford College of Art and Design and is currently based in Backwater Artist Studios. Sheehan works primarily with expanded printmaking techniques, utilising a combination of both digital and analogue processes. Based on research of women from history and mythology, her body is often the subject matter of her work. Sheehan’s practice explores ways in which women have been represented historically. 

Sheehan said “This award will afford me the time and materials to create a series of prints and artist books to commemorate Kathleen McKenna. As historical accuracy was clearly something which was important to her, the primary aim of this project will be to represent her legacy accurately. A series of artist books will document my visual and written research, and will combine a variety of printmaking methods which will serve to reference the mimeograph process which McKenna would have used.” 

Visit Nicola Sheehan's Website