139th Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition

Supporting Northern Ireland’s vibrant arts sector has never been more important, KPMG said at the launch of the 139th Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition.

Johnny Hanna, Partner-in-Charge of KPMG in Northern Ireland, said the difficulties faced by artists across the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic mean the sector is more reliant than ever on backing from the business community, one which can glean huge benefits from such a partnership.

He was hosting an online launch of the exhibition where the winner of the KPMG Young Artist Award was announced as Mantas Poderys for his pastel “Self-portrait at the age of 28”.

Interactive viewing platform

The event marks the 13th consecutive year KPMG has partnered with the Royal Ulster Academy (RUA). This year the RUA has developed an innovative viewing platform which offers an enhanced online virtual tour of the exhibition to compliment the physical tours of the gallery space at the Ulster Museum (at present the museum is closed due to recent coronavirus restrictions). As well as an interactive viewing experience, viewers have the opportunity to purchase works included in this year’s exhibition.

Johnny Hanna said: “KPMG is hugely excited to be sponsoring the annual Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition for the 13th consecutive year. There is no better display of the brilliant artistic talent emanating from across Northern Ireland and beyond than the works on display which have exceeded expectations once again. Huge credit must go to RUA President Betty Brown and team for managing to curate the exhibition under the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our partnership with the RUA is extremely important to KPMG. Only with a vibrant arts sector can the corporate world thrive as we feed off the creativity, imagination and balance which the arts deliver in spades. We believe it is particularly important to reinforce our support for the RUA this year when so many in the sector have been hit hard by the pandemic. Congratulations to all the winners.”

Exhibition themes

The exhibition contains approximately 250 examples of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, digital and video from a total of almost 1,300 entries. Some of the works reflect the times we are living in and allude to isolation, social distancing and surviving in COVID times. Other works share deep messages with hope, humour, passion and integrity.

Betty Brown, artist and President of the RUA, said: “The level of entry in this year’s exhibition has been truly outstanding, especially given the circumstances of lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic which many of the pieces were created in. It proves that Northern Ireland’s art sector is in great health and comparable to any in the world.

“I would like to say big thank you to KPMG for once again supporting the RUA in what I know is a unique and special partnership. We truly value their support, particularly at this difficult time for the sector as a whole.”

This year’s exhibition is running at the Ulster Museum until 3 January 2021. While the museum is currently closed as a result of coronavirus restrictions, the exhibition can be viewed online at royalulsteracademy.org, or in the window below:

Virtual exhibition

Read more