The late Mary Lavelle Burke opening an exhibition in Ballina in 2018. Photo: Conor McKeown

Inaugural Mary Lavelle Burke Bursary awarded to GMIT art student

GMIT has announced that Samir Mahmood, a graduating student of the four-year part-time BA in Contemporary Practices, has been awarded the inaugural Mary Lavelle Burke Bursary Award.

Samir’s practice evolves from a transdisciplinary approach incorporating drawing, painting, sculptural, and video elements, and this award is a recognition of his achievements as an outstanding student.

The bursary was initiated by the Achill Heinrich Böll Association to remember and honour their esteemed late colleague, committed board member and friend Mary Lavelle Burke who was a community activist and practising artist. She graduated from the original BA in Art and Design Programme in GMIT Mayo as a mature student in 2007.

Hazel Walker, lecturer on the BA in Contemporary Art Practices, said: “We are thrilled that this new award has happened during our 21st year of delivering art education on the Mayo campus of GMIT, and the nature of Samir’s work reflects the fact that this is a programme committed to providing the highest standards of contemporary art education here in Mayo.

“Mary was an artist, committed to her craft as an accomplished painter. She participated in numerous group exhibitions and had a number of solo exhibitions. Her work is in both private and public collections.”

GMIT art lecturer Denis Farrell commented: “Mary was extremely committed to the development of the arts in Mayo from her time in college and before, and it is wonderful that her memory can be celebrated in this way.”

The Mary Lavelle Burke Bursary Award will take the form of a two-week residency in the Heinrich Böll Cottage in Dugort, Achill.

The Heinrich Böll Cottage provides residency opportunities for artists and writers supported by Mayo County Council, The Arts Council of Ireland, The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, the German Government and with support from the local community and the family of Heinrich Böll.

This annual award is to be given to a graduating student from the BA in Contemporary Art Practices course at the GMIT Mayo campus, commencing in 2020.

Speaking about his work, Samir Mahmood explains: “The practice of making art is a personal and social activity within the broader sociocultural, political, and global environments. My approach towards this practice is to raise the question of how art gives us knowledge about our individual and collective perception of reality. Being born and raised in Pakistan, I am influenced by Islamic, Indian and Buddhist spirituality and how these traditions translate to contemporary philosophy.”

Within these traditions, Samir’s work focuses on the issue of the unity of opposites, such as presence/absence, duality/nonduality, multiplicity/oneness, attachment/detachment, etc., principles that compete but also complement one another.

Bursary recipient Samir Mahmood in front of one his paintings.

“My work derives from the research on the idea of nonduality, the notion that everything that exists is part of some fundamental entity, substance, or process. It is composed of various elements which represent multiplicities that come together as a single body of work.”

The work Samir made for his graduation exhibition can be viewed on https://samirbacap4.weebly.com/

For more information on the BA in Contemporary Art Practices course at GMIT Mayo, see https://www.gmit.ie/lifelong-learning-mayo/creative-arts-and-media/ba-contemporary-art-practices or contact John Mulloy at john.mulloy@gmit.ie.

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