Trans artist Venus Patel wins top prize at RDS Visual Art Awards

Venus was praised for her ability to "turn a transphobic attack into an incredibly beautiful artwork."

Venus Patel poses in front of her film Eggshells.

On Thursday, October 20, winners of the annual RDS Visual Art Awards were announced, with Trans artist Venus Patel taking home the top prize.

The California-born, Dublin-based artist secured the accolade for her experimental short film Eggshells, which deals with her own experience of a hate crime in which she was egged and yelled at. The piece is cut into 12 different segments, using performance, music and dance in order to communicate the story.

Venus received the RDS Taylor Art Award – a cash prize of €10,000 presented to the person the judges believe to be the most promising emerging visual artist of that year.

Speaking about the competition, Chair of the judging panel Mary McCarthy commented: “We were enthralled by the work of the 13 shortlisted artists which are included in the 2022 RDS Visual Art Awards exhibition curated by Aideen Barry. We are also very impressed by the ability of this year’s RDS Taylor Art Award winner, Venus Patel to turn a transphobic attack into an incredibly beautiful artwork.”

McCarthy, who is the Director of Cork’s Crawford Gallery, announced the winners, while RDS President, Professor Owen Lewis, presented the awards.


The ceremony took place in the RDS Concert Hall, at the launch of this year’s annual exhibition celebrating emerging Irish artists. The thirteen artists chosen went through a rigorous two-stage selection process, with three queer talents, Venus Patel, Kat Lalor and Eden Munroe, securing a highly-coveted spot in the collection.

“The RDS Visual Art Awards exhibition provides a platform for talented graduates to showcase their work, and in addition, has a total prize fund equivalent of €30,000. It continues a long-standing RDS tradition of supporting emerging Irish artistic talent,” explained RDS Chief Executive Geraldine Ruane.

“The prestigious RDS Taylor Art Award has been presented by the RDS since 1860 and is still one of the most important awards for emerging visual artists in Ireland today.”

Aideen Barry, curator of the exhibition, said that this year’s artists “offer us a proposition of ideas and musings on the way this generation is navigating the topography of our unsettling world.

“It is uncertain, it is non-conforming, it is melancholic, at times humorous and challenging. Prepare to be sucked in,” the artist said.

The 2022 RDS Visual Art Awards Exhibition runs at the RDS Concert Hall from October 21 – 29. 

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