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DIT Photography Graduate Wins Zurich Portrait Prize 2018

Posted: 23 October, 2018

Visual Artist and DIT Photography graduate, Mandy O’Neill, has won the 2018 Zurich Portrait Prize. The national competition showcases contemporary portraiture and attracts entries from across the island of Ireland, and from Irish artists living abroad.

Mandy O’Neill (b. 1968), Diane, Larkin Community College, 2018. © Mandy O’Neill.

Mandy O’Neill’s portrait - Diane, Larkin Community College, 2018 - was chosen from this year's finalists by the 2018 judging panel - Tanya Kiang, Geraldine O’Neill, and Sue Rainsford.

Speaking about her work, O'Neill said, “My portrait of Diane is part of an ongoing body of work developed as Artist in Residence 2017-2018 at Larkin Community College, Dublin, and supported by the Arts Council of Ireland. Diane was a senior at the school when this photograph was made, with just a few months left of her secondary education. Much of my work has alluded to states of transition, and there is a sense in this image of being ‘on the cusp’ and in that space between adolescence and adulthood.

The photographic portrait is very much central to my practice, and I have a particular interest in the relationship between photographer and subject and the power dynamics involved. This image of Diane shows a self-possessed and strong young woman, who is very much holding the power in her gaze. I knew when I made this photograph that while a number of factors made it a compelling portrait, it also had that intangible element that draws you in and resonates in a way that is inexplicable."

Mandy O’Neill’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the National Gallery of Ireland, the RHA, VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art Carlow, CCI Paris, CFEVA Philadelphia. She has been shortlisted for the Hennessy Portrait Prize and the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards, and her work is represented in public and private collections. She has a BA in Photography from DIT and an MA in Public Culture Studies from IADT.

Visit the National Gallery of Ireland by 13 January 2019 to see Diane, Larkin Community College, 2018 exhibited alongside works by the other shortlisted Zurich Portrait Prize 2018 artists. More information about Mandy O’Neill is available here