Local artist Bernie Anderson has been announced as the winner of a coveted prize in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) art competition.

Bernie, from Ballybofey/Gweedore won a hugely competitive public vote from this year’s ‘Climate and Health’ exhibition.

The competition, open to artists from various backgrounds, sought visual interpretations of the theme “Climate and Health.” After careful consideration, a total of 48 artworks were shortlisted by the panel of expert judges chaired by James Hanley RHA and showcased at No 6 Kildare Street.

Bernie’s winning piece, titled “A Cool Breath of Air”, uses the colour blue – which Bernie believes “can evoke a sense of connection to nature and the environment” – to convey a profound message about the impact of climate change on health.

As Bernie worked on her art piece, her goal was to capture the feeling of fresh air and the act of inhaling and exhaling. She achieved this by incorporating light and wispy effects into her brushstrokes.

Bernie Anderson is the Public Vote Winner in RCPI’s Art Competition on Climate and Health

Speaking about her win, Bernie told Donegal Daily: “Winning the Public vote prize is so thrilling to me because it’s a national competition and all the other works of art were powerful and of a high standard. Any one of them could have won, I could not have won without all the people who took the time to give me a vote.

“So I wish to take the opportunity to thank each and everyone who voted for me. I am a very proud Donegal woman and so happy that I can say with everyone’s help we brought the prize home!”

October 2023: Bernie Anderson and her partner Dominick Conway at the opening of the RCPI’s Art Exhibition.

Bernie Anderson discovered her love for art as a child in London and won a painting competition at the age of 8. Although she studied art as a leaving cert subject, she put it aside to work as a mental health nurse for 38 years.

Bernie returned to art in 2000 when she moved back to Donegal, finding it therapeutic amid the stresses of her career. Balancing work and raising her two children, she pursued art classes whenever possible.

Bernie retired as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Recovery Team in the Willows two years ago. She is now a full-time artist and recently opened a gallery at her home in Ballybofey, viewable by appointment.

She is mostly self-taught but has studied under notable artists, including Alexis Bonavitacola, Grahame Booth, Anna Martin and Morgan Ferriter. Bernie’s goal is to create uplifting and inspiring paintings that resonate with viewers.