Abigail O’Brien: The Visionary Artist Breaking Boundaries

A multi-faceted, multi-award-winning contemporary artist.

Born in 1957, Dr Abigail O’Brien was the winner of the Irish Tatler's Women of the Year Visual Arts Award.

She received her MA Fine Art Painting from The National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 1998 and thus began her artistic journey and career. 

She has been described by The Irish Times as an artist who “offers a new kind of anonymity, a hidden door through which to make an escape, something which all good visual art should do.”


These words are no surprise, given that she is a multi-faceted, contemporary artist using many forms of media to enhance and elevate her diverse craft, including photography, sculpture, video, sound and handmade embroidered objects. Dr Abigail’s work always vivid and complex, frequently explores themes such as ritual, rites of passage and the domestic realm. 

National acclaim

No stranger to acclaim, she has received plaudits worldwide, and already holds the prestigious title of the President of the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, the first female to do so at the RHA in 200 years.  A woman who broke boundaries, she has had many similar ‘firsts’, including Secretary of the RHA from 2012 until 2017, also the first time a female artist had held this position. 

She has received numerous awards, including an Arts Council of Ireland Touring Award, 2013, The Solomon Sculpture Prize, 2008 and she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the National University of Ireland in October 2019.

Her work is in Private and Public collections including, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, The Caldic Collection, Rotterdam, The Museum of Modern Art, Vienna, The Gemeentmuseum, The Netherlands and Centro National des Artes, Mexico.

“The art business is like a graph - there are always highs and lows. Over a lifetime of working as an artist, sometimes your work is in demand, and sometimes you feel ignored,” she said this year.

The crucial thing is to stay true to your own vision of your work practice and to keep going.

She lives and works in Ireland.

READ: A Glamorous Overview Of Irish Tatler's Women Of The Year Awards

READ MORE: Meet The Irish Tatler Women the Year Award Winners For 2019

You May Also Like