GMIT welcomes election of graduate Aideen Barry to Aosdána

Wednesday, June 05, 2019 Press Office
Press Release

The Head of GMIT’s School of Design and Creative Arts, Dr Paddy Tobin, welcomes the election of visual artist Aideen Barry to Aosdána, the affiliation of creative artists in Ireland. Aideen, a graduate of the BA in Fine Art, Sculpture (2001) was one of six new members elected at the recent annual general assembly in University College Cork. The five other newly elected members are visual artists Clare Langan and Margaret Irwin West, architect Niall McLaughlin and writers Anna Burns and Doireann Ní Gríofa.

Founded in 1981, Aosdána was established by the Arts Council to honour artists for their contributions to Irish society and to support them in their artistic endeavours. Membership is capped at 250 living artists from a range of creative disciplines. All members are elected by their peers and are entitled to avail of an annual grant, known as a cnuas, worth €17,850 a year for five years.

Staff and students in GMIT’s School of Design and Creative Arts gathered in GMIT’s Cluain Mhurie campus recently to pay tribute to Aideen and celebrate her success. Lecturer and sculptor Ger Leslie presented her with a gift from staff from Charlie Byrne’s bookshop, ‘Intimate Geometries’ The Art and life of artist Louise Bourgeois’.

Mr Leslie, her former tutor, says: “We as a faculty truly share a great pride in all of Aideen’s achievements, but this is the icing on the cake. It is a great honour for GMIT when alumni attain such recognition and acknowledgment for the work they undertake in their professional careers. It is also an honour for the Institute to have alumni sit on such prestigious a body. It is fantastic to see Aideen receive this recognition so early in her career. I believe she is the youngest member elected to date. It creates new energies, freedoms and motivations for future research and visual practice.”

“Successful alumni are a motivational force for us all but they are a particular inspiration for our students and their developing practice. Aideen’s biography is extensive. The diversity of creativity and experience contained within it is an enormous academic resource to understudies following in similar footsteps. We appreciate how she has remained an ally to the campus and needs of particular students from time to time, and we thank her for this generosity”.

“I am aware of how incredibly hard Aideen has strived and worked over the years. As a student and a single parent, she had a professional work ethic and strove to ignite this creativity and passion and I remember there always being a sense of excitement cooking around her practice. She was always inquisitive and passionate about work, engaged with a diverse range of research and materials, and brave in particular research and questionable in others - I remember a less than elegant vision of a persistent performance artist coming to terms with the formal element of ‘Balance’ while wearing hand-wrought high-heeled metal and leather shoes with large metal wheels on the heels!”

Aideen’s work is well recognised for its breath of contribution to visual art and culture in Ireland and internationally.  This is what her election to Aosdana reflects. There is a great sense now of all the hard work being worth it.”

“Aideen is now also an educator, teaching sculpture in Limerick. Through her teaching, she is instilling that passion for visual art and cultural dialogues with new students. She has pride and conviction in the role and function of visual art in society and endorses this within educational frameworks. This is especially important within the western context both historically and currently. She manifests the need and place of visual art, cultural narratives and education in the centre of society.

“I was remembering the late Lochlann Hoare, in many ways the person who started this story at GMIT, and I thought how ecstatic he would be at this great news.”

Read Aideen’s bio here:

For further information about courses in GMIT’s School of Design & Creative Arts, see:


Issued by Regina Daly
GMIT Communications Officer
GMIT, Dublin Road, Galway
Tel. 091 742826 / 087-9618355 (m)