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Artists receive grants to create projects showcasing work for new audiences

Acclaimed artists, writer, Jan Carson, poet, Stephanie Conn, visual artist, Sharon Kelly and writer, Gail McConnell, have been presented with Major Individual Awards (MIAs), worth £15,000 each (Brian Morrison/PA)
Acclaimed artists, writer, Jan Carson, poet, Stephanie Conn, visual artist, Sharon Kelly and writer, Gail McConnell, have been presented with Major Individual Awards (MIAs), worth £15,000 each (Brian Morrison/PA)

Four Northern Ireland artists are to receive funding to support new projects that will showcase their work to local and international audiences.

The Major Individual Awards of £15,000 are being presented by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland with National Lottery funding.

They are the highest-value awards bestowed by the Arts Council each year.

The recipients are acclaimed writers Jan Carson and Gail McConnell, poet Stephanie Conn and visual artist Sharon Kelly.

The awards are given in recognition of the contribution each has made to creative life in Northern Ireland.

The artists will use the awards to develop new works.

The artists will use the awards to develop new works (Brian Morrison/PA)

Ms Carson will use the funding to buy time to research the life and work of a well-known British writer and illustrator, including research trips to Berlin and Newcastle to access archive material.

The idea for the end project is a work-in-progress, but the writer hopes it will be either a novel or a series of linked short stories.

Ms McConnell will use her award to develop a non-fiction book that blends memoir and essay, reflecting her evangelical childhood and how the writer moved beyond her experience through books as a literature student.

Visual artist Ms Kelly will research, develop and produce three ambitious sculptural works with a video element, that will form the basis of an installation.

The three large-scale 3D forms will become the surface for a projected video element that utilises recorded footage of thermal imagery of the body.

Poet Ms Conn will use her award to further develop her craft and produce original new work. The project will grow from a creative exploration of her current life circumstances.

Poet Stephanie Conn is to receive a Major Individual Award from the Arts Council NI (Stephanie Conn/PA)

Liam Hannaway, chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said all four had already made a significant contribution to the arts in the region.

He added: “Each will benefit greatly from being able to take time out to concentrate purely on these new high-quality projects with the financial backing they need to produce work of lasting value.

“This award, made possible thanks to The National Lottery players, will help to cement their national and international reputations as artists, and strengthen the positive cultural profile of Northern Ireland, both at home and abroad.”

The four join a list of artists who have previously benefited from the Major Individual Artist awards.