The Scottish Portrait Award in Photography honours the work of Richard Coward

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From top: Richard Coward, Self-Portrait 1976, Jim Kerr, 1978; George Melly, 1981, Michael Nyman 1983

Richard Coward started out as a photographer working in black and white, but by the time of his death at 68 he had added printmaking, abstract painting, etching and film-making to his skills. Richard left school in Cheam at 16 and initially worked at an advertising agency in Soho as a runner. After a few months he moved to a photographic studio. Photography had been a passion of his since he was 9 years old when he would develop and print his own photographs in a darkroom under the stairs in his parents’ home.

Living and working in central London in the ‘sixties, Richard had fun but also worked hard at his photography. He specialized in black-and-white portrait photography and was largely self-taught, although he did eventually take a degree in photography at the Polytechnic of Central London (now University of Westminster) in the late ‘eighties.

In the early ‘seventies, to supplement his freelance work, Richard began teaching part-time, first at Bournemouth School of Art, then Portsmouth College of Art, and, for many years, at the Cass School of Art in Whitechapel, east London. During that time he became involved with many London galleries.

By the end of the ‘seventies Richard had acquired his first studio in Wapping, east London. Among those he photographed there were Simple Minds and the Sham 69 front man Jimmy Pursey.

Richard moved to Norwich in the early ‘nineties. There he started abstract silkscreen printmaking and had several exhibitions of his work including overseas. In 2008 Richard moved to Edinburgh where he lived until his untimely death in 2014.

Richard had many passions – literature, music, theatre, film – and he also produced and directed a few short films including one of the composer Michael Nyman. In addition he worked with his good friend, the record producer John Leckie to produce a record by the minimalist instrumental ensemble The Lost Jockey.

A selection of Richard's photographic work is held in collections at the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. Churchill College, Cambridge and Edinburgh University have a selection of his silkscreen work in their collections. Other photographic and silkscreen works are held in private collections in the UK and abroad.

Explore more of Richard's work at

In 2017, his widow established The Richard and Siobhán Coward Foundation (, a grant giving Foundation whose primary purpose is supporting the art of analogue photography.