Aspiring young artists from Ulster University and Friends School in Lisburn come out on top from over 300 entries submitted

The winners of Northern Ireland’s inaugural Bradley Art Prize competition – a new initiative led by renowned artist Terry Bradley and sponsored by Radius Connect – have been revealed.

The competition, which was launched in November last year, was open to young people across two age group categories, from 14 to 18 and from 19 to 23, and designed to provide young creatives with a platform to showcase their work with some of the most prolific names in the local arts scene.

Judges, who were bowled over by the unprecedented number of entries and exceptional talent on display, included Terry Bradley and wife Ashley, Hollywood film producer Martin Brennan, NI Executive Brussels Director Aodhán Connolly, and Bradley Art Prize sponsor Stephen McQuoid, Regional Director for Ireland at Radius Connect.

Alongside a total of around £4,000 in cash and art materials for the top winners and their schools and colleges, the winning artist in each category – and the runners-up – will have their work framed and proudly displayed at a special week-long exhibition at the Terry Bradley gallery in Victoria Square Belfast, launching on 24th August.

The artists also had their artwork on display at the launch night of Exodus, an exhibition at Titanic Belfast featuring the works of Terry Bradley, which opened on Saturday 1 July, and at the office of the NI Executive Office in Brussels.

Terry Bradley, who began his stellar, self-taught art career at the age of 14, said:

“From its inception, we wanted this competition to provide a unique platform and showcase for creative flair, thought and inspiration – and we’ve been floored not only by the demand to enter but by the quality of work, the technical ability and composition shown and by the professionalism which our young people have demonstrated in their love of art.

 We are absolutely delighted that the inaugural Bradley Art Prize has resonated with our brightest, youngest aspiring talent and are grateful to everyone who entered and for the schools and universities which provided support, to help determine the top two winners in each category. Many congratulations to everyone who took part.”

The major art initiative was designed to encourage more young people to consider turning their love of art into a long-term career, offering local artists the chance to display their work internationally.

In the older 19-23 age group category, Holly-Mae Greer, a First-Class Honours graduate in Fine Art and part-time care worker in Newtownards, was confirmed the category winner for her contemporary ‘Noodle Bar’ canvas, earning her the right to showcase her stunning work in the Terry Bradley Gallery in Victoria Square and at the office of the NI Executive office in Brussels. Holly-Mae was also confirmed as the overall Bradley Art Prize winner and as such has been commissioned to create a bespoke piece of artwork for Titanic Belfast.

Niamh Mooney, also from Ulster University, was the runner-up chosen in the 19-23 age category, in recognition of her thoughtful artwork entitled ‘Sisters’.

In the younger 14-18 category, Sophie Hewitt was confirmed as winner for her detailed painting ‘Jenny’ and was awarded a prize alongside fellow classmate and runner-up Erin MeGrath who caught the imagination of the judges for her emotive painting entitled ‘Trapped Within Myself’ which she completed last year. Both aspiring artists attend Friends School in Lisburn.

Niamh’s, Sophie’s and Erin’s paintings will also feature at the Terry Bradley gallery in Victoria Square and in the office of the NI Executive Office in Brussels.

Artists shortlisted prior to the winners’ announcement in both categories included Charlie Beimers from Sullivan Upper School in Holywood, Sofia Wilcock from Regent House in Newtownards and Georgia Butterly, also from Friends School in Lisburn. Loren Allen from Comber and Mamie McGinn, a student at Assumption Grammar in Ballynahinch, were also nominated as finalists.

The artwork from the five shortlisted artists is currently being exhibited at the Terry Bradley Exodus exhibition at Titanic Belfast as part of a competition for the ‘People’s Choice Award’ – where visitors can vote for their favourite shortlisted artist to win a cash prize of £250.

Stephen McQuoid, Radius Connect Director Ireland, which sponsored the Bradley Art Prize competition, said:

“On behalf of all the judges, we’re delighted to have been involved in an initiative which has delivered an outstanding platform for young creative talent, to promote thought, innovation and thinking in an area that means so much to so many.

This competition, expertly curated by Terry Bradley and the team, has helped to ensure that the efforts of our best and brightest talent will come to the fore. I congratulate everyone who entered for their outstanding artistic achievements and hope that this initiative will drive them on to even greater success and even international acclaim.”

Titanic Belfast has partnered with Terry Bradley Art on an exciting exhibition this summer where the artwork of the shortlisted artists for the Bradley Art Prize is being showcased alongside Bradley’s own works which reveal a long tradition of painting the dockers and working men of Belfast, while also incorporating some of the rich maritime history of the city, his iconic female pieces and his work relating to mental health awareness.

The exhibition opened on 1 July and runs until 10 September at The Andrews Gallery which is located inside Titanic Belfast.