The Bradley Art Prize is a new art initiative to drive fresh talent and creativity among young people in Northern Ireland launched by renowned artist Terry Bradley .
The inaugural Bradley Art Prize, which was supported by leading local business, Radius Connect Solutions, was open to young people across two age categories, from 14 to 18 and from 19 to 23 years.
The entries were judged by an esteemed panel of critics including Terry Bradley himself, along with wife Ashley Forsythe-Bradley, tattoo artist Gigi McQueen, award-winning Northern Irish writer and producer Martin Brennan, and Aodhán Connolly, Head of Office at the NI Executive in Brussels. The winners were announced in June.
Holly-Mae Greer won the 19-23 age category with Noodle Bar and Sophie Hewitt won 14-18 Category with Jenny. Both artists received a £500 cash prize.
Niamh Mooney and Erin Megrath each received a £400 cash prize as runner-up in each category.
The affiliated schools and colleges of the 1st and 2nd place winners will also get £400 cash towards art materials.
Holly-Mae Greer, as overall winner of the entire Bradley Art Prize will also receive art materials worth £500.
As part of the top prize, the winners and finalists have had their work framed and displayed in the Bradley Gallery in Victoria Square, Belfast, for a week-long exhibition, including a launch night for friends and family in August.
The Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels is pleased to display the collection as part of an initiative 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. If you would like to come visit the exhibition, which will remain on display for a few months, contact the office at email@example.com.
We also have Terry Bradley ‘Never Give Up’ wristbands at the office, available for visitors. Terry is an advocate for mental health issues, who has spoken about his own experience and the power of art as a support; ‘Never Give Up’, is a message at the heart of his Brand.
Holly-Mae Greer a young mum who lives in Newtownards, achieved a First Class Honors’ in Fine Art from the University of Ulster. Holly-Mae oil paintings reflect her interest in the banal and daily aspects of life, with themes primarily found in the domestic space. She paints from reference images that are primary and second hand, taking major influence from 1970s fil stills for their nostalgic vision and warm colour tones, which is where she sourced inspiration for “Noodle Bar”. Holly-Mae paints to convey a mood and uses art as a therapeutic mechanism to translate her mental state onto canvass, because she believes in the importance of emotional connection that can be fulfilled through honest art.
Holly-Mae takes her influence from Edouard Manet, Michael Borremans, Edward Hopper and Walter Sickert for their poetic and thought-provoking depictions of the every day.
“Having a keen interest in films and cinematography associated with films made between 1950-90s’s, I was inspired by this still taken from the Japanese film, “Tampopo” (1985) for its immediately captivating composition of consumers in what appears to be a noodle bar, simultaneously drinking from bowls of the same design. Originally 5 men in the still, I narrowed it down to the 4 you see in the painting as I felt this made the image more focused and composed, and henceforth, striking.”
Holly-Mae was recently interviewed by the Belfast Telegraph about her experience taking part in the Bradley Art Prize, she said:
“Winning the prize has definitely been a real confidence boost and has given the motivation to do more.
“One of the hardest things about being an artist is getting people to see your work, and to get a platform like that is amazing.”
Follow Holly-Mae on Instagram: @hollymaegreer_art
Sophie Hewitt likes to draw inspiration from emotions and experiences that have impacted her significantly. Sophie learned to do this when she received art therapy at Cruse Bereavement care after the loss of her dad at 11.
She created art to visualise emotions that at the time were too big for words. She likes to work with charcoal as this allows her to be more expressive in her artwork. She finds the act of scribbling over a drawing, that has taken hours, to be quite cathartic and helps her let go of perfectionism.
Today she still uses art as a way to visualise her experiences in a way that she cannot do with words, Sophie loves sharing her art with her friends, family, and has an online presence. Sophie has even been lucky enough to do some commission pieces.
“I made this A1 charcoal drawing of my aunty Jenny as part of my A level Art coursework. For this piece, I wanted to visualise the difference between a person’s outer appearance and how they are thinking and feeling on the inside. That year, I often felt stressed and anxious and used my art as a way to express and understand this. The aggressive mark making (or scribbles) around the portrait depicts anxiety. The shattered glass effect in the background is a visualisation of the feeling of falling apart and losing control. I chose an angry expression as this is often how these emotions manifest on the outside for others to see.”
Follow Sophie on instagram: @sophiehewitt_art
Niamh Mooney, from Belfast, is a Fine Art Graduate from Ulster University specialising in portraiture painting. Niamh was discouraged as a young girl from pursuing art in school but after working in a factory, Niamh enrolled in an art foundation course at Ulster University which opened up a whole new world for her when she realised that art was what she wanted to do.
Niamh realised that making a living as an artist would be challenging but it’s a passion for Niamh and she hopes to be painting for as long as possible.
Art is in her blood, as her Mum is also an artist and they recently exhibited side by side in the famous West Belfast Féile an Phobail, Ireland’s biggest community arts festival.
“In my work, I look at how the domestic space, traditionally linked to the feminine, expresses the private world of the subject. I am currently painting female figures in a personal manner by looking at friends and family members, in particular my relationship with my younger sister who has been a consistent subject matter in my work. In my paintings I create an atmosphere where the figures are absorbed in their own surroundings unaware of the viewers voyeuristic presence. I try to capture the uniqueness of a moment and allow observers to interpret stories lying just below the surface, which perhaps reminds them of their own memories. I want audiences to wonder just what my sister and I might have been contemplating in this painting, and what part of the story was mysteriously left out of sight.”
Follow Niamh on instagram: @niamhmooneyart
Erin Megrath is a young artist based in Northern Ireland, continuing to pursue her passion in the art world through an illustration course at university. Erin’s artwork consists of a range of styles from realism and expressionism to sequential art such as graphic novels, character design and concept art.
Her goal is to develop both her traditional and digital skills to be able to tell a story and to relate to a state of mind, whether that is through a drawing, painting or comic book. Erin hopes that her work inspires others to see the enigmatic and mystifying potential of art as a creative outlet and wholly cathartic experience she has.
“I created my piece ‘Trapped Within Myself’ in a response to my A-Level theme ‘Fragmented’. I wanted to visually translate my personal experience with anxiety and the emotionally conflicting struggle of suppressing your true self by internalising society’s conformist expectations and restrictions and ironically impose them on yourself, therefore becoming trapped within yourself.
I felt that the use of selected negative space in this piece symbolised the universal feeling of how something was missing, being your true self and your creativity, which can be repressed by the false façade many show to society.
Completing this piece evoked a sense of catharsis by overcoming my struggles with anxiety by showing my true emotions and creativity and I hope others can relate to this piece in the same way. I hope this piece will inspire others as it has inspired me to continue growing and pursuing my passion for art (as well growing my ever-expanding comic book collection!).”
“I painted this piece during my final A-Level year in Assumption Grammar School, Ballynahinch, County Down. I am currently on a gap year with a part time job which includes designing the artwork for products such as Bodhráns & guitar straps. I am also working on creative writing and fashion design.
The painting is oil paint on linen canvas as oil paint is my favourite medium to work with, I love how it moves with the brush and is able to give a life-like glow.
I wanted to create a piece that depicted unity, especially familial. I was influenced by the work of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Specifically, how the former saw a rise of humanism which desired to revive and venerate classical antiquity. However, much of the antiquity that was celebrated in these artistic periods was limited to the mythology of Greece and Rome. Therefore, for my final piece I sought to portray figures from ancient Irish mythology using the styles and techniques of the Renaissance and Baroque period and to paint them with the same reverence applied to the Greco-Roman deities.
The figures I decided to paint were the triumvirate of Irish goddesses, Ériu, Banba and Fódla. Since the triad are a sisterhood I felt that they properly displayed the familial bond I wanted to depict in my final piece. The subjects are my mum and two of my four sisters. I am very drawn to the dramatic lighting used during the Baroque period especially by artists such as Caravaggio and Rembrandt and I sought to replicate it here. I used small brush-strokes for the finer details like the faces and flowers, and larger strokes for the fabric.”
Sofia is a 17-year-old student studying A-Level Art, English Literature and Classical Civilisation at Regent House School in Newtownards. Sofia was born in Guatemala and spent her early years in the Middle East before her family relocated back to Northern Ireland in 2011. Sofia has been fortunate to travel extensively and has experienced first-hand many different cultures and traditions along with befriending people from many different nationalities. She believes this has influenced her love of portraiture as she is able to closely study the uniqueness of her subject’s facial features and appearance.
It was during her GCSE Art course however that Sofia discovered her love for painting. Her first works were often in acrylic but as she developed her techniques, she found a passion for watercolour paints as the unpredictability of the medium allowed her pieces to show movement in a way acrylic, oil and gouache could not.
Sofia often visits museums, galleries, art exhibitions and partakes in local art classes to further her personal development. She herself, appreciates the works of Claude Monet as, despite the invention of photography during this period, he chose instead to paint in a style that showed the world not as it was but ‘as it feels to be’ meaning he was able to still capture the individual essence of the subject or scene he was viewing and translating that onto the canvas.
The Terry Bradley Art Competition was the first competition Sofia had entered as a young adult and she is grateful to receive this exciting opportunity to showcase her work today as a result of being a finalist.
“Everyday life can be challenging, frenetic and at times overwhelming. I wanted to create a piece of art that showed the many faces a person can ‘wear’ and the numerous (conflicting) emotions an individual can experience in a single day. To achieve this, I painted three separate portraits of my friend Eve, asking her to pose using different expressions, pained, wistful and finally calm. I then combined the three portraits into one final piece.
However, I also wanted my painting to offer a glimpse of positivity and to show that by allowing ourselves a moment to pause, to breathe, we can restore our inner strength and find peace. To achieve this, I positioned the portrait of Eve in a calm state, in the centre of the piece, also making it larger in size. I added wings and a floral crown to differentiate her further and depict her in an ethereal-like form to emphasise her detachment from everyday reality.
I decided to paint this piece in watercolour, using soft and muted tones to evoke an overall sense of calm and peacefulness. However, I chose to paint her wings using fine, intricate brush strokes to represent the fragility and fleeting nature of this temporary state of being.”
Loren is a 20 year old artist from a small country town who primarily enjoys working with oils and large scale canvases and who strives to work on bigger pieces. She has explored other mediums and techniques, however, she has always gravitated towards realism and a realistic painting approach and she enjoys putting the finer details into the works she creates, which she can achieve with oil paints. She studied art from GCSE to A-Level and is now studying Fine Art at Solent University in Southampton, with hopes to expand her knowledge and love for art and painting.
‘This piece was my first time experimenting with a larger canvas and was in response to my A-Level theme of ‘Boundaries’, exploring the societal boundaries between livestock and humans. Cattle are stereotypically seen as just animals solely bred for our consumption and produce. I painted this piece to capture the friendly and innocent expression that cows have. Since then, my main focus over the course of two years has been photographing and painting cattle, specifically Hereford cattle which I have enjoyed doing and will hopefully continue to do so.’
Georgia Butterly is a 19 year old student from Friends School Lisburn.
This large mixed-media study was created with the intention of breaking free from the confinements placed on schools during the pandemic. She painted this with the hope of creating a large scale piece of work that would represent friends and allow her to reconnect with school life.
‘I have just completed my A-Levels and now moving on to Ulster University in Belfast to study a foundation year in Art and Design. Through studying Art and Design from first year right up to A-Level I have discovered my strongest medium to be graphite pencil, taking a realism approach to many of my pieces. However, I also enjoy using watercolour paints and pencils when I want to take a more surreal and abstract approach to my work, like I did in ‘Blue Girl’.’
Charlie is a lower 6th pupil at Sullivan Upper School. He has always loved to paint and draw, and art has always had a huge influence on his life. His influence comes from strong emotions, so a lot of his portraits show quite obvious feelings; regardless of it being a self portrait or someone else’s face.
He loves to work with the medium of acrylic paint, but what he likes most about art is its versatility. Recently he has worked a lot with clay, creating small sculptures and creatures to act as decorations around his house. Cardboard is also one of his favourite canvas’s to work on due to the fact that he can get it in large sizes and it is readily available. He also finds that it creates a nice mid-tone for beginning a painting and he often enjoys leaving parts of the cardboard exposed to add interest to the piece.
In the future Charlie hopes to continue to paint for a living.
‘This is an older painting of mine from around 2019. The medium is oil paints on canvas, and I think at the time I was quite new to using oil paints and so this began as more of a practice piece. This looks like quite a sad piece due to the sombre hues of purple and grey, but at the time it didn’t match my mood in that way. I liked to experiment with showing different emotions and this piece helped me with that as it allowed me to try and create a mood without an obvious expression on the face.’
You can find more information on artist Terry Bradley and the Bradley Art Prize at https://www.terrybradley.com