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Women on Walls is a campaign by Accenture in partnership with the Royal Irish Academy that seeks to make women leaders visible through a series of commissioned portraits that will create a lasting cultural legacy for Ireland in 2016. Accenture has commissioned five portraits of leading female academics to recognise their achievements and inspire future generations. The finished artworks will be on public display in the Royal Irish Academy, the first portraits of female subjects to grace the walls in the Academy’s 230-year history.

The five portraits were unveiled at a special event on 7th December by An Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald TD. They consist of four individual portraits of the first four female Members of the Royal Irish Academy, elected in 1949. The fifth portrait is a group portrait of eight female scientists, who are recipients of the European Research Council Starter Grants 2012 – 2015 and have been chosen as representatives of a generation of outstanding young female scientists working in Ireland today. View some reflections from the unveiling event here.

Due to the level of public interest and historical significance of our campaign, a documentary was commissioned to tell the story of Women on Walls and our mission to make women leaders visible. In this fascinating programme, we go behind the scenes to reveal the significance of the event, follow the artists at work and capture our own portraits of the subjects themselves, both past and present.

The Women on Walls documentary aired on Thursday, 9th March on RTE 1 and generated a huge amount of social media interest.


12 leading women in the sciences and humanities have been chosen in recognition for their achievements and to inspire future generations. The first four female members of the Royal Irish Academy were pioneers in their respective fields which included mathematical physics, Irish art history, plant viruses and classical Irish literature. The group portrait comprises of eight scientists whose areas of expertise include light and solar panels, genetics, human aging, immunology, bio medical engineering among others. Find out more about the 8 scientists work here.



Read our latest blog posts to find out more about how where the idea came from, how the artists were selected and the impact Women on Walls is having on gender equality and the visibility of women leaders.


Michelle Cullen

Michelle Cullen
Inclusion & Diversity Lead


The Open Call to Artists was managed by Business to Arts and elicited an impressive response, with 55 submissions received. The judging panel tasked with the challenge of selecting an artist(s) comprised leading figures in the Irish business and arts communities: Kathleen James-Chakraborty, Professor of Art History at UCD; Catherine Marshall, art writer and curator; Andrew Hetherington, Chief Executive of Business to Arts; and Alastair Blair, country managing director, Accenture Ireland. Considering the ambitious time-frame, the commission was awarded to two award-winning portrait artists for two separate elements of the commission. 
Vera Klute

Vera Klute was selected to create portraits of the first four female members of the RIA. Klute is the recipient of several awards and commissions, including the Portrait Collection of the National Gallery of Ireland and the Hennessy Craig Scholarship. Reacting to her selection, Klute said “I am absolutely delighted to be selected to create portraits of the first four female members of the RIA. I think it’s a very important agenda to make women more visible in big institutions like this and I’m proud to be part of that. I hope that I can do justice to each of these extraordinary academic and scientific leaders.”


Blaise Smith

Blaise Smith was selected to create the group portrait of the eight female scientists. Smith has won many awards for portraiture and been selected in numerous juried exhibitions notably the RHA Annual in Dublin and the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery, London. “I am really excited to be doing this portrait for the RIA and Accenture. A group portrait is always interesting because you have to capture the individuals and their personalities but also make the painting of the group work,” Smith said, “I feel privileged to be given this responsibility.”

Laura Mahoney, Chief Executive of the Royal Irish Academy has welcomed the artist selection, commenting “The two artists chosen for this commission display outstanding talent and commitment to the campaign. These portraits are part of a cultural shift towards greater visibility for women. We are confident that Women on Walls will gain momentum on an international scale.”