Galway artist highlighting migrant struggles wins top prize at RDS Visual Art Awards 2023

Taïm Haimet collected the coveted €10,000 cash prize for her "deeply pertinent and visceral" installation.

Artist Taïm Haimet poses with her installation at the RDS Visual Art Awards Exhibition 2023.
Image: Leon Farrell, Photocall Ireland

On Thursday, December 7, the winners of the RDS Visual Art Awards 2023 were announced as part of the exhibition launch at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA). The annual initiative showcases the work of 15 up-and-coming talents from across Ireland and is arguably the most important platform available to emerging artists in the country.

Taïm Haimet was the big winner, taking home the RDS Taylor Art Award, a €10,000 cash prize. Her work focuses on the experiences of migrants who have crossed seas to find safety in Europe and is based on the haunting stories she heard as an Arabic interpreter for asylum seekers in Galway, as well as conversations she has had with her Syrian family members who have undertaken such a journey. 

The 2023 RDS Visual Art Awards judging panel praised Taïm’s installation for addressing “pertinent issues in a deeply pertinent and visceral way”. They added that it is “conceptually complete,” “clear and resolved” and said it “evokes strong emotional response”.


There were four other prize winners on the night, with Oisín Tozer collecting the R.C. Lewis-Crosby Award, Cian Handschuh receiving the RDS Members’ Art Fun Award, Christopher Mc Mullan winning the RDS Mason Hayes & Curran LLP Centre Culturel Irlandais Residency Award and Asha Murphy claiming the RHA Graduate Studio Award.

Commenting on the talent in the 2023 exhibition, the judging panel chaired by Mary McCarthy stated, “The Jury were highly impressed by the works on show this year, in both the diversity and quality. It was very difficult to make decisions on the awards, as each of the exhibiting artists are deserving and each practice is distinct.

“The works are highly considered and thought provoking. The show has works in diverse medias from formal sculptural practices, film, photography, digital, photography sound and painting. The future is looking bright at Irish art schools.”

Elaine Hoey, artist and curator of the RDS Visual Art Awards Exhibition, added, “These emerging artists are not just the future of contemporary art: they are the driving force that propels it forward, ensuring that it remains a vital and transformative cultural force for generations to come.”

Among those shortlisted were two LGBTQ+ artists, Nikolas Ryan and Ren Coffey. Nikolas is an Irish-Vietnamese trans man, whose installation ‘Transition to Transcendence’, explores his personal experience with conversion therapy and his relationship with his body. Ren is a queer and non-binary artist whose work, ‘Ambient Dissonance’, highlights our perception of sound and noise as we hear and listen.

Their pieces are now on show as part of the RDS Visual Art Awards Exhibition in IMMA’s West Wing of the Main Galleries until March 3, 2024.

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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