"the quality of the work is high (and)... indeed compares favourably with the much larger BP Portrait Awards"
Duncan Macmillan, The Scotsman, 2 December 2017
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Highlands artist wins £5,000 prize
Edinburgh, Wednesday 31 October 2018 The winners of the Scottish Portrait Awards 2018 were announced on Wednesday night (31 October 2018) at the Scottish Arts Club in Edinburgh with the top fine art prize of £5,000 going to Daniel Murray from Poolewe for his portrait, Jané Seated. In the portrait, Murray’s friend Jané appears to float before layers of stylized blue hills that Murray says were inspired in part by the landscape of the place where they both grew up, and partly by Jané’s love of tapestry. The judges, who included John Byrne and Imogen Gibbon, Chief Curator of Portraiture at the National Galleries of Scotland, said that they ‘admired the painting’s ethereal quality and well as its execution’.
The fine art judges also included Guy Peploe, owner of the Scottish Gallery, award-winning artist Jennifer McRae and contemporary artist Gordon Mitchell who chairs the panel and is the SPA Director. They picked Edinburgh-artist Alan McGowan for the £1,000 second prize, praising his portrait of Lydia for the way he ‘layered the paint in an almost abstract way to generate remarkable qualities of light and shade’.
Thirty-four-year-old Lucas Chih-Peng Kao, an award-winning film-maker and photographer, won the £2,000 Richard Coward SPA in Photography with his portrait of artist Mira Knoche. Born in Taiwan, Lucas has lived in Edinburgh for many years. The photograph, shot on 8x10 film, was taken on a cold February evening while Knoche played with the palette knife she often uses in her paintings to ‘scape away at the façade and get to the core of things.’ Kat Gollock won second prize with her poignant photograph, Oyster Boys, which features the late Scott Hutchison. The SPA Photography Panel is chaired by Siobhán Coward, and includes Ben Harman from Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, Malcolm Dickson of Street-Level Photoworks in Glasgow and photographer Robin Gillanders.
The inaugural SPA Young Fine Artist award was won by seventeen-year-old high-school student Eve Woehrling for her watercolour painting of her brother, Portrait of Saul while twenty-year-old Eliza Coulson won the SPA Young Photographer award for her self- portrait Fragile. Eliza is currently studying at Glasgow School of Art.
This is the second year of the Scottish Portrait Awards which was founded by the Scottish Arts Club Charitable Trust with the aim of creating a vibrant new platform for celebrating exceptional Scottish talent in portraiture. The competition is open to anyone born, living or studying in Scotland over the age of 16 years. Entries for the fine art competition can be in any 2D or 3D medium. Entries for the SPA Photography must be in black and white.
In 2018, hundreds of entries were received from across the country and beyond. The judges selected works for the quality of their story-telling, and the diversity of styles and materials used, as well as skill in execution. According to the SPA Director, Gordon Mitchell, ‘The result is an exhibition that is as varied as it is entertaining; some works reflecting humour, courage and character, others conveying grief, loneliness and love and still others an exploration of the connection between the paint, the marks and identity itself.’
The SPA exhibition is on at the Scottish Arts Club, 24 Rutland Square, Edinburgh from 3 November to 1 December at 2.30-5.30pm daily except Mondays. It will transfer to Glasgow Art Club where it will be on from 21 January to 9 February 2019. Entries for the 2019 Scottish Portrait Awards are open from 2 April to 30 June 2019. See the website for details: www.scottishportraitawards.com
Scottish Portrait Award winners stand out in talented field
Edinburgh Thursday 2 November The winners of the Scottish Portrait Awards (SPAs) 2017 were announced last night at the opening event of the Scottish Portrait Awards exhibition at the Scottish Arts Club in Edinburgh. Glasgow artist, Helen Wilson took the £5,000 SPA in Fine Art while Robin Gillanders of Edinburgh received the £2,000 Richard Coward SPA in Photography. Commendations were awarded to Ewan McClure and Virginia Colley for fine art and Robert Andrew Mercer and Oscar Pereira Beiroa for photography.
Helen Wilson, known for her paintings of ballerinas, musicians and other performers won with her painting of Jonah of Kittyfield Farm. Commenting on the work, the Glasgow based artist said, ‘I am fascinated by people in their natural working environment, especially if they are passionate about what they do, be they dancers, chefs, singers, fishmongers… or indeed farmers. Jonah's family, who run Kittyfield Farm, are just such people, and while the farm occupies an idyllic setting, with views over the River Tweed to the Eildon Hills, their everyday reality is… muddy!’
Well-known Edinburgh photographer Robin Gillanders says he had not entered a photographic competition since he was 18 years old, but the Scottish Portrait Awards ‘seemed made for me.’ He took his rich-toned photograph of Shetlandic poet and author, Robert Alan Jamieson, especially for the competition. Inviting Jamieson to his home-studio, he asked the writer to bring something of symbolic value to him. Jamieson came with the eagle’s feather that appears in the photograph. Gillanders used a traditional large format 8x10 camera complete with dark cloth draped over his head and took only five shots to find his winning masterpiece.
The judges praised Wilson’s uncompromising honesty and direct engagement through the work, while Gillander’s portrait won because of it strong composition, tonal range and sense of narrative for the character. Both the fine art and photographic winners were praised for their story-telling quality and for capturing the subject very well. In both cases the judges’ decision was unanimous.
Press coverage 2017 SPAS
The Scotsman Review, by Duncan Macmillan https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/art/art-reviews-hidden-gems-at-edinburgh-city-art-centre-the-scottish-portrait-awards-2017-1-4627243
Winners go head to head in Scottish Portrait Awards – Mike Wade, The Times www.thetimes.co.uk/article/artists-go-head-to-head-in-scottish-portrait-awards-lsjjp0wl9
Art judged head and shoulders above rest – Mike Wade, The Times www.thetimes.co.uk/article/scottish-portrait-awards-art-judged-head-and-shoulders-above-rest-03bxdz9nl
Scottish Portrait Awards in Fine Art and Photography, BBC News Online, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-41830674
Winners announced at the first Scottish Portrait Awards, BBC News Online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-41818551
Established photographer wins first Scottish Portrait Award, Amateur Photography http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/latest/photo-news/scottish-portrait-awards-112509
Numerous other stories in local newspapers and online sites including a full page in Edinburgh Life and major feature in Scottish Art Scene scottish-art-scene.com/Scottish.Portrait.Awards.pdf
Cover photo credit: Carolyn Scott
A motivational poem and comic strip by George McBean to inspire fine artists and photographers across Scotland to enter the Scottish Portrait Awards