A major event in the Scottish visual art calendar, the winners of the Scottish Portrait Awards 2019 were announced on Wednesday 13th November at a crowded and enjoyable gathering at Edinburgh’s Scottish Arts Club, attended by ArtMag.
A few words were said by some of this year’s judging panel, prior to the Award-winners’ announcements, among them artist Gordon Mitchell, (the Awards’ Director and chair of the Fine Arts Panel), photographer Siobhán Coward – whose late husband’s name graces the Photography Award – Imogen Gibbon, Chief Curator and deputy Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Ben Harman, Director of Stills photography gallery, Malcolm Dickson of Street Level Photoworks gallery in Glasgow, and renowned photographer Robin Gillanders. Comments were made on the high standard of work submitted to the Awards – which only began in 2014 – and the importance of art and photography in expressing new ways of understanding ourselves and others.
The winners were announced thus:
Mark Shields (pictured above) won a Commendation for Young Photographer for his portrait Late News Final, showing one of the diminishing number of news vendors in central Glasgow.
17-year-old Brenna Collie won the £500 SPA Young Photographer of the Year prize for her candid and frank portrait Trapped, showing her after she suffered a stroke aged 14, illuminated by doctors’ torches. Though feeling trapped in her body and mind, Brenna has commented that the photograph also portrays the beginning of her recovery.
John Post won a Commendation for his portrait of the drag artist Lou Moon – pictured off-stage applying lipstick, seemingly lit by a single bulb.
Ruby Rose O’Neill won the third prize for her mis-en-abyme* image Derrick Guild en Abyme, showing the artist in repeated reflections – echoing her background in filmmaking. *Where an image shows itself repeatedly within itself.
The £500 second prize was awarded to Jo Tennant for her portrait Eve of Women’s Day, depicting her exhilarated friend Jenny grinning in winter-cold water – linking the scene’s daring exhilaration to that of the following day – International Women’s Day.
Winner of the Richard Coward Photography Award was Simon Murphy, with his portrait of Alan Tanner, a Govanhill resident with a rich life-story encompassing the ’60s London music scene, who designed LP covers for rock bands Hawkwind and Procol Harum.
Richard Coward was a vastly-gifted photographer, painter, printer and film-maker who died aged 68 having portrayed many famous names. In 2017, his widow Siobhán, who spoke at the Awards ceremony, established The Richard and Siobhán Coward Foundation, to support the art of analogue photography.
Moving on to the Fine Art Awards, Grace Payne Kumar won a Commendation with her Portrait of Niccolo, painted in the style of an old master – Niccolo is a life-model based in Florence.
Robin Gage won the £500 SPA Young Fine Artist Award with a portrait of her tired partner lying in bed, Land of White Mist.
Mark Roscoe’s Self-Portrait 2019 won a Commendation – wearing his Breton shirt in a nod to Picasso-esque artistic credibility.
The £500 third place went to Li Huang with Kinship, a portrait of his mother, evoking memories of his late father.
Saul Robertson was the Runner-up, with a prize of £1,000 for his double-portrait Us into Others, Others into Us, showing his daughters, and his love for them.
Finally, the Scottish Portrait Award for Fine Art was awarded to Michael Youds, whose painting I Was Blue, He Was Red won him £5,000. Painted in oils, and recalling David Hockney’s double-portraits, it features Michael and his twin brother David dressed in the colours of clothing accorded them by their parents when they were babies, in a bid to distinguish between them. Michael, on the left in blue, holds a photograph from that time. Working as a visitor assistant at the National Galleries of Scotland, he paints on his days off.
The exhibition, showing work by Awards nominees, opened to the public in Edinburgh at the Scottish Arts Club (2nd November – 30th November), and will travel to the Glasgow Art Club (Thursday 16th January 2020 – 15th February), and the Kirkcudbright Galleries, (14th March – Sunday 24th May). Sixty portraits in all are shown, in fine art and photography.
Images of winners’ work and further details can be viewed at the Scottish Portrait Awards’ website www.scottishportraitawards.com, and on Artmag’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages (tag @artmaguk).
Images and captions supplied by Scottish Portrait Awards: with grateful thanks to Sara Cameron McBean, SPA Coordinator.