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I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Monday, 22 June 2009

The Aspect Prize, from The Herald, Sat June 20 2009


Paisley Museum & Art Gallery
High Street, Paisley
0141 889 3151
Open every day except Monday, 10am-5pm
From today until Aug 29

Art prizes are vital components of the contemporary art world. They give artists a goal to strive for and set benchmarks for collectors and curators. Crucially, they also help to create a buzz about an artist and launch their career in exciting new directions, while also offering some financial security.
In Scotland, we are fortunate to have two major independently funded art prizes, the Jolomo Awards for Scottish Landscape Painting and The Aspect Prize, with a combined money pot of £60,000.
Given the Turner Prize hands out £25.000 to the eventual winner and £5000 to the three runners-up, it seems Scotland is yet again, ahead of the game.
Just last week, it was announced that partially sighted artist Keith Salmon from Irvine, had won the 2009 Jolomo award, netting himself £20,000 in the process. Toby Cooke received £5,000 in second place while Jack Frame and Alistair Strachan each received £2,500 in joint third place.
Following hot on Jolomo’s heels, The Aspect Prize’s annual exhibition opened last night (note to subs: June 19) at Paisley Museum and Art Gallery with the announcement that four artists very different artists had been selected to be on the shortlist for the 2010 Aspect Prize.
The four artists are, Patricia Cain and Paul Kennedy, who are both Glasgow-based, Alec Galloway from Inverclyde and Scot Sinclair, a Glasgow-born artist who lectures in visual art at the University of Louisiana.
Each artist receives £5000 now and each will work towards an exhibition in January 2010, which is to be held for the first time in the prize’s seven-year history, at The Fleming Collection’s London gallery.
At that exhibition, an overall winner will be announced. They will receive an additional £10,000. The Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, a tireless promoter of Scottish art, will also select one piece of the winner’s work for its permanent collection, which is graced by the work of Scotland’s most significant artists, from 1770 to the present day.
According to prize chairman and co-founder, Charles Jamieson, this link-up signifies an exciting development in the prize’s history.
“We’re delighted The Fleming Collection has come on board for this year’s prize,” he comments. “Not only does it have a pre-eminent collection of Scottish art, it has a wonderful centrally located gallery in London which is quite different from the commercial gallery spaces in which we have exhibited in previous years. It’s a fantastic opportunity for all concerned.”
This year’s Aspect Prize exhibition in Paisley, which runs throughout the summer, features over 150 paintings entered by artists who are either Scottish or living in Scotland, who have not had a commercial solo exhibition in the last six years. Most of the paintings are for sale and the quality of work veers across the board from sublime to the vaguely ridiculous. One of the noble things about The Aspect Prize however is that everything is hung and given its place, regardless.
Many of the paintings on display are from leading Scottish artists and include a fine portrait of the singer Justin Currie by BP Portrait Award winner David Caldwell as well as a small film-based piece by Marie Harnett, who is fast developing a reputation outside Scotland as a collectable artist.
“It’s always exciting to see what comes through the door,” says Jamieson. “A percentage of the work is of a lesser quality, but it’s important to hang it. What was interesting this year was that there was a really strong selection of exciting work. This made the judging process very difficult. Some very painterly paintings did not make it into the final four. You do get a massive range of work – not all of it necessarily applied with a brush.”
The work of the four winners makes for an exciting mix, from Patricia Cain’s highly thoughtful depiction of a building site in pastel and acrylic to Paul Kennedy’s powerful portrait in a seemingly more traditional vein, Alec Galloway’s narrative piece, using paint and collage techniques and Scot Sinclair’s vibrant take on a crowd of people using household paint.

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