The Chairman of Kilkenny County Council, Paul Cuddihy has re-established the fringe awards to promote artists on exhibiting on the fringe of Kilkenny Arts week.
The fringe awards were originally established in 1989 but since the fringe has been eclipsed by the run away success of Kilkenny arts week.
Cllr Cuddihy paid tribute to the work of others in keeping the fringe alive. Along with the Mayor of Kilkenny, David Fitzgerald, Cathaoirleach Cuddihy presented two special awards to Mary McGuinness and Cannice Ryan. “For over 20 years when others, like me, walked away from [the fringe] they stayed with it and encourage arts and crafts people and that what the fringe is about,” said Cllr Cuddihy.
Mayor Fitzgerald highlighted the importance of the arts to, both financially and culturally to Kilkenny. He said that the recent arts festival had secured a twelve fold return for the county on money invested. From a spend of half a million the Arts Festival generated €6.5m.
The first of the artists who were exhibiting at this years arts festival to be honoured with an award at the fringe was Willie Johnson from Castlecomer. Although only 17 Mr Johnson is being tipped as an artist to watch.
Ann Ryan was given an award for her work in securing exhibition space. Cllr Cuddihy siad she had got on to him about getting a campaign to use some of the vacant space around town as exhibition space.
The winner of the best group exhibition was Eoin Phelan. Virginnia black took the award for best acrylic. Gemma McGirr won an award for her work with jewellery. Seamus Caulfield won the award for best oil painting category. Dan Lenehan won the best pen and inl category. The watercolours award went to Sheila Foley. The winner of the best nature photograph was Richard Dwyer. The best black and white photo went to Karen O’Hara. Best portrait photo award went to Tomasz Grzelaczyk. David Comerford took the award in the wood section. Joy Flemming won the award for best colour photograph.
A final prize for the person who epitomised the spirit of the fringe went to Dan Lenehan who had a railing for an exhibition place. Cllr Cuddihy siad he hoped to make the fringe awards an annual event. One of the winning artist David Comerford thanked Cllr Cuddihy for the awards and urged people to support the artists. “Fringe is struggling badly. For everyone to have a rich life you need to support the artists. Please buy their works,” he said.