Academicians

Academicians

A collective of contemporary artists and architects dedicated to the advancement of arts and culture in Ireland.

Today the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts has a unique position as an independent artist-run community with peer-elected Academicians at the helm. Collectively, RHA member artists are the most important and diverse names in 21st-century Irish art.

Deeply involved in our day-to-day running and strategy, it is their combined decision-making that best supports practitioners through public exhibition, indispensable training and dedicated residency awards and studio bursaries.

Academician titles are awarded by an election and voting system, based on an individuals’ merit as a professionally active artist or architect in Ireland.

We have 30 Academicians, 15 Senior Academicians and 10 Associate Academicians presided over by the 24th President, Abigail O’Brien PRHA. All Academicians are entitled to exhibit up to six works in the RHA Annual Exhibition and to show their work in our other galleries. Many of the Academicians are also involved in teaching and the Academy’s talk series and Masterclasses as part of the student programme.

In the Academy, the spark plugs go on issues all the time, but it keeps the place crackling - alive with confusion about itself.
Patrick Murphy, RHA Director

Honorary Council (HRHA)

  • PROFESSOR OF ARCHAEOLOGY
    Dr. Peter Harbison
  • PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY
    Dervilla Donnelly
  • PROFESSOR OF HISTORY OF ART
    Prof. John Turpin
  • PROFESSOR OF LITERATURE
    Michael Longley
  • PROFESSOR OF ANATOMY
    Prof. Clive Lee
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Bruce Arnold
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Ron Bolger
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Brian Bourke
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Joyce W. Cairns PRSA
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    James Coleman
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Catriona Crowe
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Brian Fallon
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Peter Fallon
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Brian Ferran
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Maurice Foley
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Loretta Glucksman
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Sir Nicholas Grimshaw CBE PPRA
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Garry Hynes
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Neil Jordan
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Charles Kenny
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Tony Kilduff
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Christopher Le Brun PRA
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Louis Marcus
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Frank McGuinness
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Dr. Ian McKenzie Smith OBE PRSA
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Eddie Mooney
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Patrick J. Murphy
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Patrick T. Murphy
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Dr Eimear O’Connor
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Sheila Pratschke
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Hilary Pyle
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Lochlann Quinn
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Dr. Alistair Rowan
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Frances Ruane
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Camille Souter
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Jacqueline Stanley
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Colm Toibin
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Walter Verling
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Dr. Edward Walsh
  • HON. COUNCIL MEMBER
    Barbara Dawson

Election Process

Nomination

Voting

Election

Nomination

Existing Academicians can nominate up to two new candidates for Associate titles annually – when a vacancy arises. There are a max. of 10 Associate Academicians at any one time. Nominations are added to a Candidate List (max of 90 names) until the following year. It is at this stage that the nominating Academician can replace one or both nominees with new candidates, or renew previous years’ nominations before all members vote. Nominations for the Honorary Council  are presented by the Council and are ratified by the Assembly at the AGM in October.

Voting

All Academicians can vote for peers on the Candidate List who have been nominated for Associate titles at the annual Assembly in October or by postal vote. The two candidates with the most votes will go through to the Second Round. The second vote will take place at the same Assembly and each Academician will vote for either of the top two candidates that received the highest number of votes. The Academy Laws specify that there can be up to a maximum of 30 Full Academicians and 15 Senior Academicians.

Election

A candidate with the most votes will duly be elected an Associate Academician and can only become a Full Academician when a space becomes available. The newly elected Academician attends a meeting of Council to go through a short traditional ceremony, where the terms of obligation are read out. They then receive their medal and sign the Roll of Obligation, which includes the signatures of every Academician since our founding and receive their Diploma.

The Four Officers

The governance structure of the Academy consists of the Assembly, the Council, the Director and the staff of the Academy. These are supported by two advisory boards to the Council: the School Board and the Programme Board. The RHA also has an Honorary Council to bring together eminent individuals from beyond the art world.

The Four Officers and Council of the RHA are elected each year at the Academy’s AGM in October.

 

Our Presidents are always elected by their fellow Academicians and rules dictate that Officers cannot serve for more than five consecutive years and Council Members rotate every two years. 

Generally impartial, the President can summon the Council and General Assemblies, but only vote on matters when votes are tied. The President is the RHA’s formal representative and takes the lead on all fundraising efforts to secure our future.

Abigail O’Brien PRHA – PRESIDENT

The current President is Abigail O’Brien PRHA. Abigail was elected President in October 2018 after serving as Secretary from 2012 to 2017. Born in 1957, she received her MA Fine Art Painting from The National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 1998. Abigail’s work employs many media including photography, sculpture, video, sound and handmade embroidered objects.

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Una Sealy RHA – SECRETARY

The current Secretary is Una Sealy RHA. Una was elected Secretary in October 2017. The Secretary is appointed to direct and oversee the work and output of the RHA, safeguarding its cultural signficance and operations, including all aspects of our administration. Una studied Fine Art Painting at Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design, (now IADT). During her 30 year career to date, she has been involved in many aspects of the arts while maintaining her commitment to painting throughout.

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Eithne Jordan RHA – KEEPER

The current Keeper is Eithne Jordan RHA. Eithne was elected Keeper in October 2018. Elected from among our Academicians, the Keeper makes sure we continue to deliver the highest standards of teaching and academic performance. Eithne Jordan was born in Dublin where she studied at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology. Eithne is also a member of Aosdána and one of Ireland’s leading figurative painters.

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Robin Buick RHA – TREASURER

The current Treasurer is Robin Buick RHA. Robin was elected Treasurer in October 2018. The Treasurer is elected by ballot for a three-year term, normally from Academicians who have served a minimum of five years. The Treasurer acts as the formal representative of the Academicians on all matters concerning finance. Born in Ballymena Co. Antrim, N. Ireland in 1940, Robin achieved an Hons BA (Econ.) degree at Trinity College Dublin before developing a serious interest in sculpture in the early 70s.

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Academy Council

The executive function of the RHA is centralised on the Academy Council: it is our legal executive board. Made up of 7 Academicians and the Four Officers, the Council is a committee that is responsible for the direction and management of every major aspect of the Academy.

Various advisory groups report to Council on each area of the RHA’s activities and recommend policy. 

The Officers and Council of the Royal Hibernian Academy are elected each year at the Academy’s AGM in October. Officers may serve no more than five consecutive years and Members of the Council rotate every two years.

Our History

Through roving monarchs, famine, insurrections and Irish independence, the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts has lived 200 years like an Olympic flame. With different artists at the helm, its story has often been volatile, instinctive and often imperfect – but always unabashedly human. 

It was an original band of thirty or so who doggedly pursued a Charter of Incorporation to transform the landscape of Ireland’s arts and cultural sector. 

Just as national academies around Europe had emerged as major arbiters of style and taste, this closely-knit group of artists were keen enter the fray and likewise steer the course of Western aesthetics. 

While in its earliest years funding for the Academy was underwritten by the English monarchy, today the RHA operates as a charity, receiving the majority of its income from exhibitions, Friends and Benefactors.

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