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Meet the ACES 2016

Tuesday 8th November 2016 at 10am 2131 Comments Literature , Northern Ireland Music , Visual Arts

Pictured are ACES recipient from left Paul Kane (musician), Conor Lamb (uilleann piper) and Rachel Kelly (writer) Image: Pictured are ACES recipient from left Paul Kane (musician), Conor Lamb (uilleann piper) and Rachel Kelly (writer)

17 artists from Northern Ireland have been announced as the latest recipients of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s ACES awards 2016/17. But just who are this year's award recipients? 

Visual Arts

Alice Burns, visual artist

Alice Burns graduated PGDip Art In Public 2012, and BA Hons Fine and Applied Art 1st Class Honours 2010, from the University of Ulster. Alice has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, her work is also held in private and public collections at home and abroad.  Her ACES project is to create new work for a solo exhibition at MCAC, a publication of the work and to develop her career as a professional artist. The work she will do during the project is based on the concept of “Unlearning”, an educational philosophy of the Bauhaus School, and material and process explorations.  

Alice’s work explores relationships between people and site using processes and materials that she feels are appropriate to realise the complex notions of memory, place and ritual. A desire to play creatively with the material of the ‘archive’ develops experimental and interactive ways of [re]-presenting artifact and narrative. Connections can be made, entangled and disentangled as the audience engages and re-threads their particular narrative.

Frederic Huska, visual artist

Frederic Huska is an artist photographer and researcher. Originally from France, he recently completed a PhD with practice at Ulster University in Belfast.  His photographic practice has taken him to various cities across the world, including Marseille, Prague, London, New York and more recently Los Angeles. 

He has exhibited internationally at the Lennox Contemporary Gallery in Toronto, 2008; Kathleen Cullen Fine Art Gallery in New York, 2009; the Royal College of Art in London, 2010; the Fine Art College of Shanghai University in Shanghai, 2013; Ku Art Gallery in Beijing, 2013; Belfast Exposed Gallery in Belfast, 2014, and recently The MAC as part of MAC International 2016. He is a visiting lecturer at the Belfast School of Art, Ulster of University.  

Joanne Proctor, visual artist

Joanne is a visual artist creating intricate graphite, collage, labour-intensive ink dotting and meticulous hand-stitched works on paper.   Since graduating from the University of Ulster with a First Class BA Honours in Fine and Applied Art (2008) she has exhibited both nationally and internationally.  Most recently Joanne was invited to participate in a touring group exhibition Paper, Table, Wall and After, National Taiwan University of Arts, Taipei, Taiwan (2015) and Gallery North, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne (2014)

This award in partnership with Paper Studio Northumbria (PSN), will focus on an extended period of experimentation and development, enabling Joanne to undertake research, training and residency opportunities in Newcastle upon Tyne, London and Berlin, whilst being mentored by Reader in Fine Art and Director of PSN, Siân Bowen; who along with a selection of other professional artists, theorists and curators will facilitate invaluable networking and discourse. This partnership will enable the creation of an innovative and challenging new body of work within the expanded field of contemporary drawing, which Joanne aims to exhibit both nationally and internationally.

Philip McCrilly, visual arts curator

Phillip McCrilly is an artist and curator currently based in Belfast. Having previously worked with artists such as Amanda Beech, Duncan Campbell, Vivienne Dick, and Simon Fujiwara as part of exhibitions at Catalyst Arts and Golden Thread Gallery, recent projects have considered the transgressive and interdisciplinary possibilities of food and hospitality within contemporary curatorial practice.

As part of ACES 2016-17, McCrilly will be researching institutional models of food production and creative labour whilst also working closely with the Irish Museum of Modern Art towards the realisation of a number of food projects as well as the production of a recipe book.


• Paul Kane, musician

Paul Kane has been a musician for the past 35 years.  He has toured the UK playing festivals and has played extensively across Ireland.  He established Over The Hill Music Collective a not for profit organization aimed at mature musicians and has recently worked in New York and Nashville with Health professionals and academics discussing best practice in working with people with dementia. His work was recently recognized by the Alzheimer Society where he received an award on behalf of Oh Yeah for outstanding Contribution in the field of arts and dementia. 

Paul’s ACES project will be based on how to interpret memory focusing on people with later stage dementia in Belfast producing a documentary style film along with an original music score.  The outputs of this work will be featured in several artistic outlets including; festivals, galleries, private screenings and be made of use to health professionals and peer artists.

• Eimear McGeown, flautist

A First Class Honours graduate from the Trinity College of Music, London, flautist Eimear McGeown has established a busy and varied career both classically and on the Traditional Irish flute. She has appeared as soloist in North and South America, South Korea, Japan, The Philippines and Europe. Two of her most notable performances have been on BBC's Last Night of the Proms and the World Premiere of Dave Morris's Concerto in the Library of Congress in Washington DC. She has recorded with various artists on albums for record labels, Decca, Universal, Chandos Records and on BBC Radio, Classic FM and RTE Lyric FM.

Already having appeared before President Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, and Prince Edward, in 2011, at the invitation by Her Majesty the Queen, Eimear McGeown attended a Royal Reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate her achievements in the Performing Arts.  

On Irish flute, Eimear has two All-Ireland titles and has released a Celtic EP on iTunes. She has recorded with Barry Douglas on two of his Celtic albums, which feature several of her own compositions and recently performed them together with Camerata Ireland in the Kennedy Centre, Washington DC.

• Conor Lamb, uilleann piper

As a founding member of the Irish traditional group Réalta Belfast musician Conor Lamb has established a reputation as an exceptional exponent of the uilleann pipes. Performing across Europe and in such far flung locations as India and South Korea, Réalta act as true ambassadors of the tradition. Their two studio albums have been met with critical acclaim and Irish Music Magazine described their latest release Clear Skies as "one of the best CDs to come out of Ireland in 2016".

Outside of Réalta Conor has performed on uilleann pipes and whistles at the Globe Theatre (London) and locally with the children's theatre company Cahoots NI.  Conor is currently working on a new project with County Antrim flute player Brendan Mulholland and County Down guitarist Deirdre Galway. With support from the Arts Council the trio will record a new album featuring traditional music from their local areas and further afield.

Robin Price, sound artist

Robin Price’s artistic practice spans the areas of electronic music, visuals, audience interactivity and creative technology. His creative practice began in nightclubs and electronic music while studying theoretical physics. A fork in the road led him to a PhD in Composition and Creative Practice allowing him to diversify from maths into coding and electronics for interactivity and audience participation.

Currently his practice involves writing linear music, microtonal music, exploring open form approaches to composition, visualising sound, building interactivity into objects, engaging with audiences through technology, and teaching. His practice is increasingly concerned with examining idealised notions of the countryside, natural and pastoral and how they relate to the ecological and industrial. In his ACES project with Millennium Court Arts Centre he will develop an offsite, outdoor sound installation that combines field recordings and ambient music with ecological / meteorological sensor data. 

Amanda St John, singer-songwriter

Amanda St John is a soulful singer-songwriter from N. Ireland. She is a mainstay on the Irish radio, festival and gig circuit and has been described as "An incredible vocal performer and songwriter" by BBC Radio Ulster’s Ralph McLean.  Her debut album Grow was launched in May 2016, the title track has featured in international TV ads for the Rio Olympics and the album has also received excellent reviews and international airplay (including extensive BBC and RTE plays).  She has worked with artists like Brian Kennedy, Duke Special, Ciaran Gribbin (of INXS) and Jon Tiven (Nashville writer/producer who has worked with BB King, Van Morrison and The Rolling Stones).

Her ACES funding project will support a UK Tour which starts in Nov 2016, helping to promote her album to new audiences.

Isobel Anderson, singer-songwriter

Isobel Anderson is a British indie artist, based in Belfast and Brighton. Originally hailing from Sussex, the 31 year old signer and musician has released three studio albums and has a PhD in Sound Art. Her music has over 10 million plays on Spotify, and has been played on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC 6 Music and The Guardian’s Music Podcast. Isobel features on two of Passenger’s studio albums, Wide Eyes Blind Love and Divers and Submarines, and has released a collaboration EP with violinist Ruby Colley titled The Sussex Sessions.

In 2016 Isobel released an EP featuring various electronic artists’ remixes of songs from her third release, In My Garden. Isobel is now working towards her fourth studio album, which will be released in 2017.

  • Ryan Vail, singer-songwriter

Ryan Vail is a musical pioneer with vision. The Derry born composer has released three EPs to date and a collaborative album “Sea Legs” with folk singer Ciaran Lavery and his debut solo album For Every Silence. Ryan blends the worlds of electronica, folk and classical, always experimenting combining classical instruments with unique methods of recording and composition.

In 2014 he composed the soundtrack for a full length BBC2 Documentary entitled “The Longest Night” as part of the BBC's “True North” series. In 2015 he composed a solo piano piece for World Piano Day which was chosen for Nils Frahm’s Piano day playlist on SoundCloud. His 2015 collaborative album with Ciaran Lavery “Sea Legs” has been shortlisted for the NI Music Prize (Best Northern Irish Album of 2015) previous winners have included Foy Vance and Robyn G Shields. His 2016 debut solo album For Every Silence made album of the week on BBC Radio1, Irish Times album of the week and is currently shortlist for the NI Music Prize.

The Aces award will be used to help record Ryan's second album. Taking on bigger recording sessions and experimental sound development. Bridging the gap between various different genres of music.


Olive Broderick, poet

Downpatrick-based Olive Broderick, is a previous graduate of the Queen's University Creative Writing Programme (poetry). Her first publication ‘Darkhaired’ was one of the Templar Poetry pamphlet competition winners in 2010, and was shortlisted for a Michael Marks Award. Her collection 'Night Divers' (also Templar Poetry) is due to be published in Spring 2017. She has received a Hennessy X.O. Literary Award, Emerging Poetry Category and is currently one of the Lagan Online/Reading Rooms '12Now' initiative writers.

She is delighted to have received an Arts Council NI ACES award for 'Knowing the Dance' an exploration of the meeting place between poetry and dance/movement.

Stephen Sexton, poet

Stephen Sexton lives in Belfast where he is studying at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. Poems have appeared in Granta, Poetry Ireland, Poetry London, and Best British Poetry 2015. His pamphlet, Oils, published by The Emma Press in 2014 was the Poetry Book Society’s Winter Pamphlet Choice.  Stephen’s ACES project will see him conduct research and work on writing that will constitute his first collection of poems.

Gregory McCartney, writer and curator

Dr. Gregory McCartney is the editor of Abridged and the Honest Ulsterman. He is a freelance curator and a member of the Void Gallery, Derry curatorial committee.  This ACES project will allow him to develop his skills through further exploration of the curatorial/editorial amalgamation that has been at the heart of his artistic practice for the last decade. 1979, a year that has been suggested as the real beginning of the 21st Century will be used as an inspiration to investigate ‘moments’ little and large, personal and societal where the world changes.  He will create an online ‘Lab’ which will contain research into the 1979 project and be a continuously updated diary art object in itself. 

This award will support his practice in editing both print magazines and web-based publications/material and assist in the research/curation of future exhibitions allowing him to investigate new artistic avenues and methodologies. 

• Rachel Kelly, writer

RB Kelly's first novel, The Edge of Heaven, was a winner of the Irish Writers' Centre Novel Fair Competition and was published earlier this year. Her short fiction and non-fiction articles have appeared in magazines and journals around the world, and her short story Blumelena, was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2012.

Her doctoral thesis, Mark Antony and Popular Culture, was published by IB Tauris in 2014. Her ACES award will be used to support the writing and development of her second novel, Resting On The Brink

Stephen Connolly, poet

Stephen Connolly is from Belfast, where he is writing a PhD in the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, where he has also taught. With the poet Manuela Moser, he runs The Lifeboat reading series and magazine. Some recent poems can be read in Poetry (Chicago) and Poetry Ireland Review. He has read his work at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival (Poetry Ireland Showcase) in 2016, Poetry Ireland Introductions series in 2015, Cork Spring Poetry Festival (Introductions Series) also in 2015, at the Literary and Philosophical Society Library, Newcastle, 2015, the Linen Hall Writers’ Forum and as part of the Enemies Project, Belfast, 2014.

He appeared at the Arts Council’s Brussels Platform in 2013. He is co-editor with Sinéad Morrissey of The Future Always Makes Me So Thirsty: New Poets from the North of Ireland (Blackstaff Press, 2016).”


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