Co Down artist wins Royal Academy of Arts prize with piece celebrating George Michael

'George Michael', a mixed-media artwork by Grace McMurray for which she won this year's Arts Club Award at the Royal Academy of Arts' Summer Exhibition in London

CO DOWN artist Grace McMurray has won a prestigious award from the Royal Academy of Arts in London for a piece celebrating pop icon George Michael.

Each year the academy presents prizes for outstanding works. Belfast-based McMurray has received the Arts Club Award at the 251st Summer Exhibition for her piece entitled George Michael. The award is for an artist aged 35 or under for a work in any medium except architecture.

McMurray’s mixed media piece – made of gradients of blue glitter ribbon woven in three different directions to form a pattern that looks three-dimensional – was inspired by the life of pop singer Michael, who died in 2016. It is a celebration but has elements of sadness reflecting the prejudice he faced, according to the Rathfriland-born artist.

Having had her piece selected from more than 16,000 entries, McMurray (33) said it was "an honour to get into the Summer Exhibition" and that to win an award was "amazing".

"With George Michael, I wanted to make something that was joyful and modern, and I feel that this award shows that it has translated,” she said. The piece has sold for £1,500.

A former pupil of Banbridge Academy, McMurray graduated in Fine Art Sculpture from Wimbledon College of Art in London in 2008 and now lives between Rathfriland and Belfast. She is a member of QSS Studios Belfast and will have more of her work on show in exhibitions at the PS2 and Sea Holly galleries in Belfast in the coming weeks.

Rathfriland artist Grace McMurray

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