Mac Puts Up £20,000 International Art Prize

Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, NI Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, Hugh Mulholland, Curator at the MAC, and Russell Whittaker, Events Executive at Northern Ireland Tourist Board, help announce the shortlist for MAC International, a new art prize launched by the MAC offering a prize of £20,000 to the winner. Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, NI Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, Hugh Mulholland, Curator at the MAC, and Russell Whittaker, Events Executive at Northern Ireland Tourist Board, help announce the shortlist for MAC International, a new art prize launched by the MAC offering a prize of £20,000 to the winner.[/caption]

The MAC has launched its new international art prize, offering professional artists worldwide the opportunity to exhibit at the MAC with a substantial prize of £20,000 awarded to the winner – one of the biggest contemporary art prizes in Ireland and one of the few major prizes in the UK.

An international judging panel which includes a senior Tate expert has today announced the shortlist of 24 projects which have successfully made it through the open submission for ‘MAC International’, which attracted over 1,000 submissions from more than 30 countries across the world. Two Belfast artists, Dougal McKenzie and Colin Darke, are among those named on the shortlist.

The exhibition, which will run across all three MAC galleries from 31st October 2014 until 18th January 2015, will offer visitors the very best in contemporary visual art including sculpture, painting, photography, film, installation and performance. MAC International will build on the innovative visual art practice built up by the MAC and highlighted by the Turner Prize presence in Derry-Londonderry during 2013’s City of Culture

Submissions to MAC International opened at the start of 2014 and closed at the end of April and the winner of the £20,000 prize will be announced at the opening ceremony on 30th October, 2014. The resulting, free-of-charge three-month exhibition of the shortlisted artists’ work is expected to attract some 60,000 visitors.

A jury of respected international curators including Francesco Bonami, an Italian art curator and writer who is currently the Artistic Director of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, and Judith Nesbitt, Head of National and International Partnerships at Tate, London, will select the winner. Twenty-four submissions have been shortlisted, including works from artists in South Korea, Sweden and the US, as well as 11 entries from the UK and Ireland. A full list of the selected artists is below, with more information on each artist available from

Hugh Mulholland, Curator at the MAC, said: “MAC International will make a major contribution to the visual arts sector in the UK and beyond. It has already made a global impact, with 1,016 submissions coming in from across the world, alongside submissions from Irish and UK artists. The calibre of the judging panel adds significant weight to the exhibition’s international credentials, while the £20,000 on offer to the winner represents one of the largest art prizes in the UK.

“MAC International will fully transform the MAC’s galleries during the exhibition, adding further to the MAC’s reputation as a leading cultural venue offering visitors the opportunity to see current visual art practice by local, national and international artists. We expect many of the visitors to the exhibition to be out-of-state, making a major contribution to Northern Ireland’s cultural tourism economy.”

Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín added: “In order to nurture young and emerging talent here it is vital they are able to experience the best from both international and home grown artists. The international art prize offers the opportunity to view innovative and pioneering contemporary visual art of all forms. This is at the very heart of international contemporary art and will ensure both the reputation of the MAC and contemporary arts here continue to grow. With the exhibition free of charge and running until January 2015, I am certain many people will take the opportunity to visit the MAC.”

The MAC International winner will be announced at a ceremony in the MAC on 30th October, 2014.

Judith Nesbitt, Head of National and International Partnerships, Tate, said: “MAC International 2014 is an exceptional opportunity for artists to exhibit in this award-winning venue. The MAC consistently brings the best of contemporary visual art to audiences in Northern Ireland and this open exhibition has widened the net in exciting and unpredictable ways.”

Francesco Bonami, Artistic Director of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, said: “The MAC International is an extremely important initiative – open exhibitions of this kind play an important role in highlighting new work, ideas and approaches by artists across the world. On a personal level I was pleased to return to Ireland to reacquaint myself with the diversity of practice there.”

The shortlisted artists are:

• Rolando Vargas – Film (Santa Cruz, USA) • Geerk Lenz – Painting/sculpture (Dusseldorf, Germany) • Andrew Cranston – Painting (Glasgow, Scotland) • Zimoun Zimoun – Sound installation (Switzerland) • Jordan Baseman – Film (Glasgow, Scotland) • Darek Fortas – Photography (Dublin, Republic of Ireland) • Harri Palviranta – Photography (Helsinki, Finland) • Roxy Walsh and Sally Underwood – Painting /installation (London, England) • Salla Tykka – Film (Helsinki, Finland) • Hanibal Srouji – Painting (Beirut, Lebanon) • Maria McKinney – Sculpture (Dublin, Republic of Ireland) • Mike Harvey – Film (London, England) • Grace Ndiritu – Photo/archive based installation (Birmingham, England) • Tim Ellis – Painting (London, England) • Shelly Nadashi – Film (Brussels, Belgium) • Euyoung Hong – Installation (South Korea) • Tsahi Hacmon – Sculpture/Installation (Israel) • Dougal McKenzie – Painting (Belfast, Northern Ireland) • Cian Donnelly – Performance (Rome, Italy) • Baelen Steven – Drawing (Gent, Belgium) • Ulf Lundin – Film (Enskede, Sweden) • Mairead McClean – Film (London, England) • Charbel Samuel Aoun – Sculpture/installation (Lebanon) • Colin Darke – Sculpture (Belfast, Northern Ireland) Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: “As principal funder of the MAC, we are delighted to lend our support to this fresh, new initiative. Not only has MAC International created welcome opportunities for professional artists, but it will show that Belfast, and indeed Northern Ireland, belongs at the very heart of international contemporary art practice. Given the volume and diversity of entries, I don’t envy the task undertaken by the judges but I am very much looking forward to seeing the work of the shortlisted artists at the MAC from October.”

dn_screenThe Northern Ireland Tourist Board has funded MAC International as part of its Event Funding Programme 2014-15. Susie McCullough, Director of Business Support & Events, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said: “MAC International will present the very best of contemporary visual art and provide a very attractive cultural offering for all to experience and enjoy. We expect to see significant national and international interest in this innovative exhibition and many visitors from home and abroad. It will also showcase the state-of-the art MAC, a unique cultural venue in the heart of Belfast.”

Ulster Bank has been one of the MAC’s key sponsors since it first opened in 2012. Looking ahead to the MAC International, Richard Donnan, Managing Director, Retail Banking at Ulster Bank said: “Having been involved with the MAC from the beginning, we can see the significant impact the venue has made both economically and culturally for Northern Ireland.

“The MAC International attracts interest from world class artistic talent and offers local people an opportunity to engage with visual art that they may otherwise never have the chance to experience. We’re delighted to be involved with the MAC and look forward to seeing some spectacular pieces on display later this year.”