Visual Arts

James McKenna

Born in Dublin, James McKenna studied at the National College of Art and Design. He was founder member of the Independent Artists group. He was awarded the Macaulay Fellowship for Sculpture in 1960.

His work was shown at many of the major exhibitions, especially the international sculpture shows in the 1980s and early 1990s. He had literary talents also: he wrote many plays, notably The Scatterin’, At Bantry, Citizens’ Tree, The Battering Ram and People without Fame, along with a slim volume of poems. He also illustrated an Irish children’s dictionary.

His sculptural work offers a contrast between an almost rough-hewn appearance in places and exquisitely fine carving in others. Commissions include Female Figure and Tree, Central Bank, Sandyford, Co. Dublin (1979), and limestone monument, College of Technology, Plassey, Limerick; bronze equestrian group, Trim; the Gerard Manley Hopkins monument, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare. Other works include the suite of wood sculptures in sculpture park, Hazelwood, Sligo.

He won the Listowel Writers’ Week sculpture prize (1975); the 1916 Commemoration Prize for At Bantry: verse play with masks (1966); Liberties Festival drama prize for The Battering Ram (1976), and he shared first prize for A Dance of Time, a radio play, at the Pearse Centenary (1979).

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