Trinity names artists to create first sculptures of women for the Old Library

Trinity College Dublin has awarded commissions to four artists to create four new sculpture bust portraits representing women scholars for display in the Long Room of the Old Library. The sculptures will represent the scientist Rosalind Franklin, the folklorist, dramatist and theatre-founder Augusta Gregory, the mathematician Ada Lovelace and the pioneering women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft.

From the expressions of interest in the project invited from the artistic community, Trinity has chosen the following artists:

Maudie Brady to portray Ada Lovelace;

Rowan Gillespie to portray Mary Wollstonecraft;

Vera Klute to portray Rosalind Franklin;

Guy Reid to portray Augusta Gregory.

The sculptures, the first to be commissioned in more than a century, are to honour the highly significant achievements each person has made, individually, to collective knowledge and to human endeavour.

There are currently 40 marble busts in the beautiful historic space – all men. Trinity recognises that its public spaces must better represent our diversity, and, as a first step, is introducing the sculptures of women. The four women to be honoured were chosen last year from more than 500 nominations covering a wide field of fascinating and ground-breaking women scholars.

A view of some of the 40 sculptures currently on display

After an extensive national and international shortlisting process, nine artists were invited, and supported financially, to submit maquettes of their proposed designs, from which the final four were chosen.

The panel members (detailed below) were extremely impressed by the submissions, the range of materials, the sensitive portrayal of the women scholars and the breadth of interpretations of the brief, which included the architectural aesthetic of the Long Room.

The next stage is for the selected artists (biographies below)  to create the full-scale sculpture bust portraits, which they will make using an intriguing range of materials consistent with the brief – that is, to be of the current era whilst being harmonious with, or an organic development of, the aesthetics of the existing architectural and sculptural context.

It is anticipated that the new busts will go on display toward the end of 2022.

Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast said

The addition of these new sculptures to the Long Room of Trinity’s Old Library is an important step – but only a step – in further recognising the great achievements of women in the world of scholarship and learning. These new busts in this, the most beautiful space in the College, and perhaps in the country, will serve as an important signal to all who enter the Long Room that we will try to champion excellence in all its diversity.

The Librarian and College Archivist, and chair of the shortlisting panel, Helen Shenton said

The imagination and artistry of the submissions are superb. The panel were extremely impressed by the diverse interpretations of the brief, in terms of organic and inorganic materials; by the perceptive grasp of the personalities and intellectual achievements of each of the women scholars; and by the understanding of the unique architectural context of the historic, sculpture-lined Long Room.

For more information on Trinity’s Long Room, see here. :

For more on the women to be celebrated in the new sculptures, see here.

Notes for editors:

The panel that selected the four finalists comprised:

Helen Shenton, (chair) Librarian & College Archivist, Trinity College Dublin

Sean Rainbird, Director, National Gallery of Ireland

Eugene Downes, Cultural Director, Department of Foreign Affairs

Catherine Giltrap, (commission manager) Curator and Head of the University Art Collections, Trinity College Dublin

Dr Angela Griffith, Director of the Irish Art Research Centre and Assistant Professor, Department of History and Architecture, Trinity College Dublin

Professor Roger Stalley, Professor Emeritus of the History of Art, Trinity College Dublin

The artists’ biographies are as follows:

Maudie Brady

After graduating in 1995 from the University of Melbourne (Bachelor of Art) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Bachelor of Fine Art -Sculpture) in 1998 Maudie pursued a career in the Film and Television Industry and over the course of the next 12 years learnt a wide range of skills. Realising there was much more to learn specifically about figurative sculpture she sought out academic training at the Florence Academy of Art, Italy. In 2016 she completed the Figurative Sculpture Diploma at FAA with a student teaching scholarship, and continues to teach for the FAA Sculpture Department as well as being the Director of Anatomy and Ecorché. Awards include The Society’s Prize for FACE2019, Joint Winner for the Tom Bass Prize 2016, Best Nude for her Life Size sculpture ‘Laura’ at the 12th ARC International Salon Competition, and Honorable Mentions for ‘Wounded Faun’, ‘Muninn’s Fate’, and ‘Forsaken Son’ in the 13th and 14th International ARC Salon. ‘Laura’ was purchased by Museo Europeo de Arte Moderno (‘MEAM’, Barcelona) in 2017 for their Permanent Collection.

Rowan Gillespie

Since the creation of Famine in Dublin, and subsequently Migrants in Toronto, Rowan Gillespie’s attention increasingly turned to the plight of those who arrived on distant shores. Remembering the thousands who died on Staten Island and commemorating the few migrants who, against all odds, achieved greatness in a lifetime, such as Archbishop John Hughes and Johnny Kilbane. He has sculpted James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, W B Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Sir William Orpen, Turlough O’Carolan and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Conscious that these are all men, Rowan, more recently, grasped the opportunity to commemorate women transported from Ireland to a life of slavery, shame and brutality, women who overcame, to become the wombs, the educators, the agitators, and the moral compass of modern-day Australia

The Trinity Long Room commission offers Gillespie the opportunity to continue this work by researching and sculpting another great woman and pioneer, Mary Wollstonecraft.

Vera Klute

Vera Klute is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Dublin. She has exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at the RHA, the Butler Gallery, Limerick City Gallery, the LAB and the Molesworth Gallery. Her work is part of many public collections including the Arts Council, the Office of Public Works, Trinity College Dublin and The Butler Gallery. She was commissioned to create a bust of Garry Hynes for the National Gallery and a bust of Eileen Gray, which is displayed at

E1027, Roquebrune. Recently, Vera completed her first public art commission, a large stone sculpture of Luke Kelly situated in Dublin 1.

She has received several awards, including the Solomon Fine Art Award for sculpture (2020), the Hennessy Portrait Prize at the National Gallery and the Hennessy Craig Scholarship at the RHA (both 2015), the K+M Evans Award (2013). She has been awarded several Arts Council Bursary Awards and was elected Associate Member of the RHA in 2018.

Guy Reid

Guy Reid is an Anglo-French artist born in 1963 and living in S.W. France. In 1985 Guy began training as a classical carver, going on to work for the world renowned Spink workshop, where he completed work for institutions including the Metropolitan Museum New York, The Getty Museum California and The Sir John Soane Museum London.

In the mid 1990’s he began carving lime wood portraits, exhibiting widely in Europe, the USA, and Australia.

In 2001 he was commissioned to do a portrait of Sir Alan Goodison, Ambassador in Dublin 1983-86 and key negotiator in the Anglo Irish Agreement. Other commissions include those of Sir Philip Pullman, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and comedian Alan Carr.

Public commissions include 14 portrait heads for the Guesten Hall, Avoncroft Museum. In 2015 Guy won the prestigious Society of Portrait Sculptors award for best portrait and in 2020 their award for best foreign portrait.