Arts Council Honours NI Artists

Peter Rosser, Ian Sansom, Dave Duggan and Allan Hughes receive individual awards

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has awarded grants of £15,000 to four of Northern Ireland’s most promising artists. The Major Awards, presented to composer Peter Rosser, writer Ian Sansom, playwright Dave Duggan (pictured above) and visual artist Allan Hughes, acknowledge the valuable contribution each have made to the arts in Northern Ireland.

These annual awards are the largest grants presented to artists by the Arts Council each year. The financial support provided makes it possible for artists to take time out to dedicate to their creative work and to produce a substantial and ambitious project that will make a significant contribution to the development of their careers.

Congratulating this year’s recipients, Rosemary Kelly OBE., Arts Council Chairman said: 'The average artist living in Northern Ireland earns just £7,500, so to receive an award of this value is of critical importance. All four of these artists have already made a notable contribution to the arts in Northern Ireland. This award of public funding will now help them, at the mid-point of their professional careers, to cement their national and international reputations, and to strengthen the positive cultural profile of Northern Ireland abroad.'

Peter Rosser, Ian Sansom, Dave Duggan and Allan Hughes join an esteemed list of artists who have previously benefited from the Arts Council’s Major Individual Award, including writers Carlo Gébler, Damian Gorman, Glenn Patterson and Owen McCafferty, leading contemporary artists Rita Duffy, Susan MacWilliam, Patricia Craig and Cara Murphy, and composers Brian Irvine and Elaine Agnew.

Ian Sansom is the author of eight books. He is currently based as a lecturer at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast. He will use his award to work on a new novel.

Commenting on his award, Sansom said: 'It is of course a great encouragement and endorsement for any writer to be the recipient of an Arts Council Major Individual Award. An award from the Arts Council suggests that one’s work is of some value and significance, and that maybe you’re on the right lines. I do hope so.

'The award will enable me to work on a novel consisting of letters from a reader to the great writers of the Western canon (‘Dear James Joyce’, etc). It’s a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time, and which will combine my work as both a novelist and critic.'

Peter Rosser is a Belfast based composer. His music has been performed at events including Spitalfields Festival in London, the Belfast Festival at Queen’s and Crash Festival in London. 'I’m honoured and delighted to be a recipient in 2011 of the Arts Council’s Major Individual Artist award,' said Rosser.

'The opportunity to spend a year concentrating on composition will mean I can reactivate a couple of long-standing ambitions. The first is to work with the dynamic young vocal ensemble EXAUDI, for whom I’ll be writing a substantial work based on memory and forgetting. The second is to delve into some serious string quartet writing with the brilliant Jack Quartet from New York. The results of both will be seen and heard in Belfast in the next couple of years.'

Allan Hughes is a video installation artist and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. His work has been shown in the Mediations Biennale in Poznan Poland, UNOACTU in Dresden, La Sala Naranjain Valencia, the Ormeau Baths Gallery Belfast and the Beursschouwburg in Brussels amongst others.

'The award will allow me to produce a new body of video work that explores colour classifications of propaganda and to correlate this with the techniques of “grading”, a colour adjustment process used in film and video post-production,' commented Hughes. 'This award is an important development for my career and I am very grateful for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s support of my work.'

Dave Duggan is a Derry based playwright and has been working professionally as a writer since 1984. His artistic work includes stage plays that have been seen in Afghanistan, New York, Edinburgh and Liverpool, as well as across Ireland. Duggan received the BBC Stewart Parker Trust Award for his play Gruaigairi in 2008 and an Oscar nomination for the short film Dance Lexie Dance.