Sarah Cecilia Harrison Essay Prize 2023

The Artist, from Memento Civitatem by Alice Maher and Jamie Murphy. 2022. Reproduced by permission of the artists.Credit

New research and writing on the history of women in the visual arts in Ireland

The National Gallery of Ireland is announcing the second year of the Sarah Cecilia Harrison Essay Prize. This award marks Sarah Cecilia Harrison’s legacy in the arts and as a social campaigner and will recognise the best new research and writing telling the stories of women and Ireland’s visual culture, including fine art, design and craft.

The prize is open to all members of the public over 18 years of age. The author of the winning essay will be awarded a €1,000 prize at a reception held in the National Gallery of Ireland on 30 November 2023 (date subject to change). You can read last year's winning essay here.

This prize is generously supported by the descendants of the sister of Sarah Cecilia Harrison, Beatrice Chisholm.

How to enter

Read the competition rules

Before entering the competition, read the eligibility requirements and competition rules in full.

Your essay

  • Must relate to women who have contributed to Ireland’s visual culture or Irish women who have worked in the visual arts abroad
  • Must be new and previously unpublished
  • Must be written in English only
  • No longer than 5,000 words in length, inclusive of cover pages, footnotes and endnotes

How to submit

Email your entry to [email protected] before midnight (IST) on 22 September 2023.

You must include the following information in the body of your email:

  1. Your full name
  2. Your address
  3. Your telephone number
  4. Your date of birth
  5. A statement of permission for the Gallery to share your name and locality (if shortlisted) with press, media and other promotional purposes in connection with the competition, including on the Gallery’s social media platforms
  6. Social media handles (optional)

You must add the following documents as attachments to your email:

  1. Essay (attached as a Word or PDF)
  2. 500-word abstract (attached as Word or PDF)
  3. 200-500 word biography of the author (attached as Word or PDF)

Include your full name in the filename of each document.

Closing date

Complete entries must be emailed to [email protected] by midnight (IST) on Friday 22 September 2023.

The Gallery's Library and Archive

The Gallery’s Library and Archive include important and valuable collections of research material held at the ESB Centre for the Study of Irish Art (ESB CSIA), Yeats Archive and Gallery's institutional archives. These collections support the study and scholarly interpretation of visual art in Ireland.

The central role played by women artists in the development and dissemination of modernist art in Ireland is well documented. However, the broader story of women artists in Ireland and their achievements has often been forgotten, or viewed as ancillary to the standard canon.

In 2019 the Gallery acquired the Sarah Cecilia Harrison archive. Comprising over 400 letters from Sir Hugh Lane to the artist, the archive (dating from 1905–1915) provides insight into the world in which both Lane and Harrison lived and worked. This important collection is now fully catalogued and digitised and available to researchers on

Archives and primary research are essential to understanding and revealing these stories. Through the development of our collections, engagement and learning programmes, the Library and Archives department, including the ESB CSIA, has worked to promote Irish women artists as well as female-led collectives and industries.

More information