The Sir Denis Mahon Award at the Royal Drawing School

This prestigious award was created to honour the memory of Sir Denis Mahon and his lifelong passion for painting and drawing. During his lifetime he was a great supporter of the Royal Drawing School (formerly The Prince’s Drawing School) and this annual award was created to give a recent graduate of The Drawing year the opportunity to continue to focus on drawing from observation and to develop their work.

A prize of £10,000 is awarded to an outgoing Drawing Year student each year to enable them to continue their practice as an artist, it runs from March to March and the award goes towards a studio space for the duration of the year as well as a solo exhibition.

The artists who have so far received the award are:

  • 2019-20 Irene Montemurro
  • 2018-19 Joana Galego
  • 2017-18 Holly Froy
  • 2016-17 Naomi Trevor
  • 2015-16 Rosie Vohra
  • 2014-15 Jessie Makinson
  • 2013-14 Jonathan Farr
  • 2012-13 Tom Sander
  • 2011-12 Alex Cree

IRENE MONTEMURRO is the recipient of The Sir Denis Mahon Award 2020.

Irene was born in Switzerland and grew up in Southern Italy before moving to London where she currently lives and works. Before attending the Royal Drawing School’s Postgraduate programme in 2017-18 she studied Illustration (BA) at Camberwell College of Arts.

Irene’s work has been featured in the Courtauld’s East Wing Biennale, Jaguar Shoes Collective’s Sweet 16, experimental arts and music festival DronicaMostyn Open 21 and the RA Summer Exhibition as well as other independent group shows. She has published a zine with Maple Death Press and has designed posters for several London arts and music events.

Irene’s work deals with subjects including intimacy, personal narrative and storytelling, all of which we encounter with an underlying sense of uneasiness; her work might seem diaristic at first glance, but it is full of surreal fantasy and uncanny juxtaposition that leaves the viewer uncertain about their encounter. ‘Everything I have made’ she says, ‘is both completely fictional and a way of processing my own experiences.’

Irene has created an interactive, online exhibition which she describes as ‘an improvised bedroom exhibition’. It consists of thirteen ink drawings made during the last three months. All works are for sale with 10% of all proceeds going to Calais Food Collective, a charity helping international refugees. The List of Works in the exhibition can be downloaded here and the Price List, containing also additional works by Irene, can be downloaded here.

Please see additional works by Irene Montemurro:


IRENE MONTEMURRO in her studio, 2020



You can watch a video below of the exhibition shown at British Museum on 8 November 2018 by the winners of The Sir Denis Mahon Award at Royal Drawing School.


  • The Mahon Award Exhibition at British Museum on 8 November 2018