In July 2020 November Club announced an invitation to dreamers: a chance to apply for a £5,000 bursary for an artist in any performing or visual arts discipline to take time out to develop and enhance their practice in community and/or participative arts. November Club received 63 applications, and  the judges all agreed the bursary should be awarded to Seamas Carey from Cornwall.

Maurice’s sister, Sarah Nī Chonaill said: “Seamas is an inspired choice for November Club’s artist bursary, in memory of my brother. Maurice would have liked Seamas enormously…he’s a great choice”.

Seamas Carey, winner of the Maurice O’Connell bursary added:

"I'm hugely excited to be awarded this bursary! With my work, I'm usually obsessed about the outcome, making sure that I produce something worthwhile that can be shared in the public domain. This is the first time someone's said 'off you go, do some thinking and come back to tell us what you find'. Although I use lots of different skills within my practice (composing, performing, choir conducting, piano tuning, silent film accompaniment) I sometimes struggle tying it all into one description. This bursary will finally encourage me to call myself an artist. I've come to realise that the word 'artist' can mean many things, and that seems to be what Maurice O'Connell was.”

The bursary was open to applicants from the Republic of Ireland, Cornwall, Northumberland or the metropolitan county of Tyne & Wear. The award of £5,000 by two anonymous donors is being managed by November Club in memory of Maurice O’Connell, who died in 2018. Maurice helped create the original artistic vision for November Club, he had a unique sense of fun and was able to inspire audiences of all ages.  

Cinzia Hardy, Artistic Director of November Club said:

“The judges of the MOC Bursary were unanimous in their choice of Seamas Carey as the recipient of this one-off bursary, in memory of my friend and colleague Maurice O’Connell. Seamas is a talented musician and theatre maker based in Cornwall. He will use the time afforded to him by the bursary to explore how rituals and traditions might be repurposed and re-invented for the strange times we are living through. I know Maurice would have loved to have joined Seamas in his investigations and I’m excited to see what creative ideas Seamas will have over the coming months.”

Seamas Carey added:

“I'm obsessed with rituals and rites of passage, particularly in a contemporary context. We've all had an extraordinary year and slowly we're coming to terms with how so much has changed. A rite of passage helps us mark the change from one state to another: a baby being born, a child coming of age, a couple becoming married for life and finally, the death of a loved one. But what could a rite of passage for the new normal look like? How could we mark the change from the old world into this new one, and how could it be made into an accessible work of public art? That's what I want to find out. "

For a taster of Seamas' work visit 

The judging panel included:

  • Cinzia Hardy, Artistic Director, November Club, Northumberland
  • Imogen Cloët, Associate Artist, November Club, Northumberland
  • Fiona Ellis, Associate Artist, November Club, Northumberland
  • Tony Fegan, Director, Tallaght Community Art Centre, Dublin
  • Michael Chaikin, Artist (Kinect Sculpture)

Seamas will be documenting his work through November Club. To follow his journey, make sure you follow November Club on their social media channels. 

Photo credit: Steve Tanner 


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Kathryn Row, Marketing and Audience Development Manager

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