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The Venue Back to RDS Visual Art Awards

RDS Visual Art Awards Rules

The RDS Visual Art Awards supports and showcases graduating Irish visual artists as they transition from student into early professional career. The RDS is one of the world’s oldest philanthropic organisations and its primary aim is to see Ireland thrive culturally and economically, with the arts as a key component of this vision.

Spanning three centuries, the RDS Visual Art Awards are among Ireland’s most important visual arts accolades. Roderic O’Conor, Walter Osborne, Louis Le Brocquy and Dorothy Cross are just some of the past winners of the RDS Taylor Art Prize, which is the top prize in the competition and is now valued at €10,000. It has been awarded since 1860. Today the RDS continues this support with an exhibition opportunity and a prize fund of €30,000 for emerging Irish visual artists.


Eligible entrants will be selected and invited to apply for the RDS Visual Art Awards by a team of independent professional curators appointed by the RDS to travel around the country and view final year BA & MA degree shows in selected art colleges.  Each curator will compile a longlist of the best artists who will then be invited to apply for the Awards. Works selected by college curators must read clearly as visual art. Invited artists will be required to complete an online application form to compete for inclusion in a high-profile curated exhibition in the RDS in each October and the chance to win a share of the €30,000 prize fund. Entrants will be enrolled in one of the Irish art colleges listed below and be graduating from the final year of either a BA or MA visual arts course in the same year.

Irish final year BA and MA students enrolled in overseas art colleges are also eligible to apply as are those graduating from visual art degrees in colleges not on the list below. Students whose end of year show falls outside of the traditional summer period can also apply. They will be required to complete an online application form which will be assessed by one of the team of curators conducting the college visits. The curator will decide of the applicant should go through to the judging stage. These students should email arts@rds.ie for more information and to access the online form.


DU Dublin School of Creative Arts (inc Sherkin Island course)

Griffith College Dublin

IADT Dun Laoghaire

National College of Art & Design

Belfast School of Art

Burren School of Art

Sligo Institute of Technology

GMIT Centre for Creative Arts & Media

Limerick School of Art & Design

CIT Crawford College of Art & Design

Institute of Technology Carlow (Wexford Campus)

Waterford Institute of Technology



The entry system is via an online form only. The link to the application form will be emailed to all eligible and longlisted artists. Entrants must complete the form fully and upload good high resolution images of their work on which the judges will base their selection.  Entrants should also give a detailed description of the concept behind the body of work and techniques/materials used. A short artist’s statement and an outline of future plans are also required as are the space and technical requirements if selected for inclusion in the exhibition. The deadline date for receipt of applications is in July of each year. Entries will not be accepted after the deadline date. Exhibiting artists must sign a letter of agreement with the RDS.

The judging panel of five members is made up of two nominees from the RDS (the Chair and Exhibition Curator), and one each from the National Gallery of Ireland, the Royal Hibernian Academy and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The panel select artists for inclusion in the exhibition. They also award the prizes, with the exception of the CCI Residency. The judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Prize winners are announced at the launch of the exhibition in the RDS in October.

The work selected by the judging panel will be exhibited in the RDS Visual Art Awards Exhibition in the RDS Concert Hall, Ballsbridge in October. A maximum of up to 15 artists will be selected (dependent on the scale of artworks). As a condition of entry, all entrants must commit to the availability of their work for the duration of the exhibition. Artists in the exhibition will work with a professional curator to select the best work for and to assist with the installation of the show. Successful exhibitors must be available to attend a briefing meeting with the curator in the RDS in October. A programme of talks/tours will run alongside the exhibition.

A small stipend will be paid to each exhibiting artist to cover transport, time and installation costs.

Exhibiting artists must provide good quality photographic images of the work selected for exhibition for promotional purpose and for the exhibition catalogue. The copyright of the work remains with the artist whose permission will be sought for reproduction of the work in publications and publicity, including film or video, relating to the exhibition

The RDS does not charge commission on any work sold during the exhibition. Work sold may not be removed by the buyer until the end of the exhibition. Payments will be processed by the RDS.

All work will be insured against theft and damage while in the care of the RDS.

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