Limerick based artist, Gerry Davis, who won the coveted Hennessy Portrait Prize with his portrait entry ‘Sean’ said he ‘wasn’t expecting the win’.
“I was shocked. Sometimes with these things you might have an idea of where it will go but I wasn’t expecting this one,” he explained
‘Sean’ is a portrait completed by Gerry in 2015. It is a oil painting of Sean Guinan, a fellow artist. The portrait was completed in just three weeks, a short time for a painting of this standard.
Gerry says that this style of painting is not his usual style, “years ago, I used to do portraits for friends and family but as the years have gone on, I’ve focused on different themes and subjects, he explained. “I only entered because a friend of mine had entered last year and at the time I went for a look.”
The grueling process of the Hennessy Portrait Prize competition took several months to whittle down the 300 entries to a shortlist of 14.
Gerry found out he had won on Tuesday November 29 after a private meeting with the judges and a public display.
This major achievement comes with €15,000 prize money as well as €5000 commissioned to create a new portrait piece for permanent collection in the National Gallery.
“I’ll go into talks with members of the national gallery. I believe they have a list of people I can choose to paint from.” he said.
For Gerry, his career as an artist has blossomed greatly in recently times. In October of this year, he had a solo exhibit at Pallas Projects in Dublin which received much acclaim.
Mr Davis, who graduated from the Limerick School of Limerick of Art and Design in 2009, appreciates the help Limerick city gave him on the path to becoming a successful artist.
“Of course in 2009, the recession was really going strong so there were a lot of empty shops around town. A new project in the city at the time called ‘Creative Limerick’ let artist use those units to set up galleries.”
Gerry and 13 other upcoming Limerick artists have been operating Wickham Street Studios since 2009. The studios have become one of Limerick’s key art organisations following the artists redevelopment of it from a derelict building to a creative space.
Mr Davis solo exhibition, held in Pallas Place in Dublin, featured paintings of the studios and the creative spaces the artists use within.
These paintings along with some of Gerry’s other works can be viewed on his website gerrydavis.net.
The portrait ‘Sean’ will remain on display in the National Gallery until March, when it will then return to its hometown of Limerick.