This Sunday (October 2nd) sees the eagerly-anticipated arrival of Painting The Nation, a brand-new series for RTÉ One which tests the talents of some of the very best amateur painters in the country.

But who gets to decide which painter makes the grade? When it came to selecting the two judges who will oversee the proceedings (and ultimately decide whch artist's work will be chosen to join the OPW’s state art collection in Dublin Castle), the Painting The Nation team turned to a pair of Ireland's most acclaimed contemporary painting talents:

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Una Sealy

Una Sealy is an award winning painter and graduate of Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design (now IADT) in Fine Art & Painting, and UCD (Higher Diploma in Arts Administration). She is a recently elected full Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy.

Una works mostly in oils on canvas. She is inspired by the people and places around her, and has produced many much-admired paintings of Dublin’s northside suburbs of Howth, Baldoyle and Clontarf. She is also well-known for her portraits, which are usually informal, and often of family and friends. She prefers to work directly from life, rather than from photographs.

Una was awarded the Ireland-US Council/Irish Arts Review Award for Outstanding Portraiture for her painting Neighbours (pictured above) at the RHA Annual Exhibition 2011

She has had nine solo exhibitions, including at the Ashford Gallery, the Royal Hibernian Academy (2000 & 2016), the Molesworth Gallery (2004 & 2006), and a major review show at Draíocht (2012–2013). Her work has been selected for group shows in San Francisco, New York and Britain as well as many in Ireland, and she regularly exhibits at the RHA’s annual exhibition.

She was the winner of the Adam’s Award for the artist whose work held the most potential for future appreciation at the RHA Annual Exhibition in 2015, and she was one of 12 finalists shortlisted for the Hennessy Portrait Prize in 2014. At the RHA in 2011 she was awarded the Ireland-U.S. Council/Irish Arts Review Award for Outstanding Portraiture. She has been awarded several Arts Council bursaries, including a Travel and Training award for a period of study in France in 2013.

Una is a regular invited tutor on drawing and painting courses at the RHA School, and at Ireland’s National Gallery. See more of her work here.

Gabhann Dunne

Originally from Kildare, Gabhann Dunne is now a Dublin-based painter and is represented by the Molesworth Gallery. He graduated with fine art degrees from Dublin Institute of Technology and the National College of Art and Design.

He is a former winner of the RDS Taylor Art Award and the Hennessy Craig Scholarship at the Royal Hibernian Academy. He was described by art critic Cristín Leach - writing in the Sunday Times in May, 2015 - as ‘one of the best Irish painters of his generation’.

Gabhann Dunne's Arctic Surfer (2014) featured in the RHA's Annual Exhibition in 2014

Gabhann teaches with the National Learning Network in Phibsboro. He has had multiple solo exhibitions and was awarded a Dublin City Council artist’s residency on Bull Island. His work has been exhibited throughout Ireland and Europe and he recently completed a commission for Facebook in Dublin.

Gabhann works mostly in oil on board or canvas. He paints landscapes, both real and imagined, as well as animals, plants and portraits. His work is informed by a broad spectrum of authors, social commentators and ecologists, and by both historical and contemporary painters. He also draws inspiration from reading, world and local events, and their effect on the environment.View more of his work here.

Brushes at the ready! Painting The Nation, RTÉ One, Sundays from October 2nd @ 7.30pm