Wexford winner of the Golden Fleece Award

By Dan Walsh

Ardcavan, Wexford-born, London-based, Irish visual artist and fashion designer, Richard Malone was awarded the Golden Fleece Award for Visual Arts 2023. 

The Golden Fleece is Ireland’s largest independent award for visual and applied arts, established by pioneer Helen Lilias Mitchell and first awarded in 2002. It celebrates artists and practices that cross several disciplines.

Malone’s practice looks at things that are invisible – particularly class, queerness, place, language and rurality, which, he believes, continue to be overlooked and are rendered in techniques that aren’t often accepted as visual art – stitch, dyeing, drapery etc. 

Richard Malone in Residency at Blackbird Cultur-Lab. (Pic. Karla Sánchez).

Malone plans to use his Golden Fleece Award to purchase specialist equipment that will allow him to refine the physicality of his sculptural and performance pieces, and to continue his research into Irish folklore and queer histories using archival collections at University College Dublin and the National Library.

Responding on Instagram, he said: “I want to say a huge thank you to each of the judges whose practices and work I sincerely admire. Thank you to all of the trustees, I really appreciate your kind words and all of your careful consideration in rewarding each prize, every artist shortlisted represents incredible cross disciplinary work. 

“Huge thank you to the incredible people who’ve supported my work across several spaces, without whom we wouldn’t have such rewarding and engaging exhibitions and programmes around the country,” he added.

Richard Malone recently engaged in a 4 week-residency of research and experimentation at Blackbird Cultur-Lab, Haresmead, Foulksmill, which is a creative cultural laboratory based within a working farm that follows regenerative agriculture practices. It aims to provide an environment for farmers, artists, academics, and practitioners from various disciplines to experiment and work beyond traditional boundaries. It is a non-for-profit organisation that works to instigate new ideas and opportunities involving the arts and seeks to foster local participation in a non-traditional format. 

Its main objectives are to promote cultural exchange and the better understanding of the connections between the soil, the land, the environment and our every-day lives.  Blackbird Cultur-Lab does this through different seasonal programs such as research residencies, dialogue sessions, children’s workshops, and other activities. 

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