Maurice scoops London 2012 award

LONDON 2012 and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today that Ballymoney-based visual artist, Maurice Orr has been awarded one of the first commissions for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Unlimited.

Unlimited is the largest arts and disability programme to be delivered in Northern Ireland and the UK. In this first round over 400,000 of funding has been awarded to 10 commissions from the unprecedented three-year programme to create new work for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Maurice Orr (right) said: "This commission will challenge me like no other work I have made - working on a scale and with materials I have never used before, bringing fine art to young people and the visually impaired in the most tactile way possible. This opportunity will help bring my work to the next level of ambition I have always wished to achieve. Unlimited has motivated me to reach these goals like no other."

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “Maurice’s Unlimited commission is an excellent example of how Northern Irish artists can become involved with the cultural celebrations of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and shine with the rest of the UK.

Unlimited offers significant prospects for our artists, enabling them to showcase their talents on an international stage. We hope that the recognition that Maurice has received through this commission will encourage others to apply in the next funding rounds.”

Maurice Orr will create four sensory installation pieces inspired by the raw, barren landscapes of his native Northern Ireland. Through sound, paint and natural materials such as fish leather, the piece will evoke a holistic feeling of place. Visitors to the exhibition, The Screaming Silence of the Wind, will be encouraged to touch the surfaces, look at the landscapes and listen to the sounds that have inspired him.

Nelson McCausland, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, said, “Unlimited is a unique platform for recognising excellence in the field of arts and disability. I congratulate Maurice Orr on his Olympic achievement in being among the first ten artists selected in the UK for this commission.

“The involvement of our artists in this innovative programme for arts and disability will greatly contribute to Northern Ireland’s disability legacy by enhancing confidence and expertise in the sector.”

Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad said, “Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad said, “These are my first commissions since I started work for the Cultural Olympiad Board and I am proud to be working on a festival which will be offering more commissioning for disabled artists than any Cultural Olympiad and festival anywhere in the world. This is a chance to change the way work by disabled artists is perceived and enjoyed round the world, and we are thrilled to have such exciting commissions to get the programme started.”

Unlimited encourages collaborations and partnerships between disability arts organisations, disabled and deaf artists, producers, and mainstream organisations to celebrate the inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and produce work like never before.

Applications for the second round of commissions are now welcomed from disabled and deaf artists or disability arts groups wishing to create high quality work to form part of high profile showcase events across the UK. Further information on the application process can be found at www.london2012.com/unlimited.

The project is principally funded by the Olympic Lottery Distributor, and is delivered in partnership between London 2012, Arts Council England, the Scottish Arts Council, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council.