Una takes her place

There’s been some good news that will go towards raising Una Watters’ profile in the artistic community. An essay, Una Watters: Total Eclipse, by this website’s curator, Mary Morrissy, was awarded a runner-up place in the inaugural Sarah Cecilia Harrison Essay Prize.

The new prize, set up by the National Gallery of Ireland, is aimed at recognising the “best new research and writing on the history of women in the visual arts in Ireland”.

Sarah Cecilia Harrison (1863–1941) was an accomplished artist and curator, as well as an advocate of social reform and women’s rights in Ireland in the early twentieth century.

The National Gallery acquired the Sarah Cecilia Harrison archive in 2019. Comprising over 400 letters from Sir Hugh Lane to the artist, the archive (dating from 1905–1915) provides insight into the world in which both Lane and Harrison lived and worked.

The prize, which will run annually, is funded by the descendants of the sister of Sarah Cecilia Harrison, Beatrice Chisholm, and was established to mark the launch of the Harrison archive to the public, and in honour of her legacy in the arts and as a social campaigner.

The winner of the inaugural prize was Chiara Harrison Lambe, a forthcoming PhD candidate in the Department of Art and Visual History at Humboldt University in Berlin. Her essay, Stella Steyn (1907-1987): A Name to Remember, explores why the Irish-Jewish painter and printmaker, who was one of the earliest illustrators of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, and the only Irish artist known to have studied at the Bauhaus School in Germany, rarely appears in accounts of significant 20th-century Irish artists. You can read the award-winning essay here

At the prize-giving ceremony at the National Gallery last week, two runners-up were also acknowledged – Mary Morrissy on Una Watters and Niamh Flood writing on the Dublin painter and sculptor Gabriel Hayes (1909-1978) –

The essay on Una and other publications associated with our work to restore her reputation feature on a new page on the site – see under Publications.

Above: Self-Portrait in Green (1943) – Photograph: Dara McGrath

By Mary Morrissy

Mary Morrissy curates this site. She is an award-winning novelist, short story writer and journalist. She has taught creative writing at university level in the US and Ireland for the past 20 years, and is also an individual literary mentor.

5 replies on “Una takes her place”

Big congratulations Mary. Well done and well deserved for your research on Una Watters’ art. I’ve so enjoyed reading your interpretation on her paintings. Thanks again for your work and dedication in putting together a great exhibition of Una’s work held earlier this year in Dublin, I loved it.


Congratulations Mary. This is a really vivid account of Una and her world and the extraordinary speed at which she developed. A tantalising glimpse of an artist who flourished, almost vanished and is now being re-discovered, revisited and seen anew.


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