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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, 24 October 2011

150 cheers for RGI

Standing Woman by Audrey Grant 

I'm just back from a week in the wild west coast of Scotland so have been out of the art loop for a week or two. Yes, it happens. I even try not to check my emails, despite my trusty iPhone being never far from my side (on silent...). 

I even gave Facebook and Twitter the bum's rush. 

My journalist colleague, Sarah Urwin Jones, and I usually write the The Herald's galleries pages between us each Saturday
, week on, week off, but because of various holidays, it's been changed around in the last couple of months. Normal service will be resumed from this weekend!

Because I was away, I missed the beginning of one of traditional highlights of the Glasgow art calendar, the 
The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts' (RGI) annual open exhibition at The Mitchell. 

While it's not the Turner Prize exhibition (which also opened last week at The Baltic in Newcastle) and lacks the cache of the cool factor, being selected for this exhibition is a big deal to the hundreds of artists who enter, as illustrated by an excellent feature, headlined, The ART Factor, in The Herald's Saturday magazine at the weekend by my friend Heather MacLeod. It's an even bigger deal to be one of the 21 winners of cash awards up for grabs (details below).

In the piece, Heather told the story of this 150 year old organisation, emphasising its relevance to working artists in modern-day Scotland.

Likening the process of staging the annual show as being not unlike the X-Factor for artists (just 360 works are selected from 1300 entries), she highlighted just how nerve-wracking it can be for artists who wait nervously for the call to hear if they should come and pick up their 'rejected' work after selection day.

This year, I had heard stories of surprising rejections. Even award-winning artists are not immune. A judging panel of working artists scrutinises each work and as artist Simon Laurie, at the helm of the process this year commented to Heather: "while a piece may be well executed, the selection is also influenced by taste, and achieving the right balance of works."

Talk about peer group pressure....

There has been talk on Facebook of a Salon des Refusees... watch this space. I for one would be keen to see the 'rejected' work.

Anyway, before I start on the mountain of post-holiday emails, let alone see this exhibition, I'll quickly post the RGI official press release, which gives the low-down on who, what and where. 

And the winners are....

RGI Announces 150th Open Annual Exhibition Prize Winners

With some of Scotland’s finest contemporary art set to be showcased at its 150th annual exhibition which opens on Sunday 23 OctoberThe Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts (RGI) has announced the 20 prize-winning artists selected to receive 21 special awards (please scroll down for full list, biogs & artists’ quotes).

Out of over 1300 entries submitted by emerging and established artists earlier this month, 360 artworks were selected for the exhibition which runs from 23 October until 12 November at The Mitchell in Glasgow. As Scotland’s largest open submission contemporary art exhibition, the show offers the public a unique opportunity to view and buy contemporary art at its best.

Along with the prestige of having their work exhibited and possibly purchased by art enthusiasts, 20 artists have been selected by a judging panel of established artists, to receive awards, including several expressly aimed at young painters and sculptors, or first time exhibitors.

This year see no less than 16 of the awards going to artists from the Glasgow area, three from Fife, one from Edinburgh, one from Aberdeen and a young Russian sculptor based in West Sussex. For several of the prizewinners, this is the first time they have submitted to the annual show.

The artists are following in famous footsteps, as over its 150-year history, the annual show has exhibited works by The Glasgow Boys, while Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed the 1895 show invitation.

Given that this year is the RGI’s 150th anniversary, thousands of visitors are set to attend, and with prices from £200 to £2950, the show is relaxed and informal way of buying art for the first time.

RGI President Gordon Macpherson says: “I hope that the city of Glasgow will turn out in full force to support and enjoy this landmark exhibition and help us to celebrate 150 years of the RGI.”

The RGI’s 2011 Annual Exhibition

The Mitchell, North Street, Glasgow G3 7DN

23 October – 12 November 2011 Mon-Sat 10.30am – 5pm Thurs 10.30am – 7pm

Sun 23 Oct 12 – 5pm (Closed Sundays 30 Oct & 6 Nov) www.royalglasgowinstitute.org


Inverarity One to One Travel Award
Autumn Wind, Tuscany
Christine Woodside RSW RGI
Auchtermuchty, Fife
For Christine, who is originally from Aberdeen and studied at Gray’s School of Art, winning the Inverarity Travel Award is the culmination of what has been one of the most fruitful years of her professional life.
The Travel Award includes a cash prize of £1000, a two-week visit to a vineyard in the Bordeaux area of France during the grape picking season, and a solo exhibition at the RGI Kelly Gallery featuring work inspired by the visit.
“I’m very keen on landscapes and adding an assembly of things I love against that,” says Christine. “I enjoy walking and am particularly inspired by the texture and pattern of autumn. Recently, dogs have started to appear in my paintings and my whippet Jinky sits beautifully.”

The David Cargill Award £2,000
The Silence of the Sea
James McNaught RSW RGI
Born in Glasgow, James is the only son of parents who worked as carpet designers at Templeton’s Carpet Factory. James was accepted unconditionally at Glasgow School of Art where he stayed until 1970.  Since retiring from teaching (fellow prizewinner & RGI Simon Laurie was a pupil) James is now a full-time artist, exhibiting both in the UK and internationally. His paintings hang in significant private collections around the world and his work has also been widely used on book covers.

The David Cargill Award £1,000
The Road Home III
Claire Forsyth BA (Hons) Fine Art
Glasgow artist Claire Forsyth has won the £1000 David Cargill Award with her first ever submission to the show,The Road Home 111, a four-colour silk screen-print. As Claire is a full-time workshop manager at Glasgow Print Studio, most of her time is taken up facilitating the work of other artists.
“I almost fainted when I heard I’d won,” says Claire, “as I don’t have much time to make my own work but was determined to submit something this year. This prize will buy me some time to concentrate on my own work. Winning a prize is a boost to any working artist as it recognizes and validates your work, and is such an encouragement to keep going.”

The Walter Scott Purchase Prize £2,000
Red Herring
Helen Wilson RSW RGI PAI
Given Helen Wilson’s reputation as an artist, it’s not surprising that she has won two awards at this year’s show, the brand new Walter Scott Purchase Prize for Red Herringand also the Crinan Residency for Rigoletto Rigout. Helen is currently artist in residence with Scottish Opera which will culminate in an exhibition next year to celebrate 50 years of the company. Red Herring was inspired by the words of the Joni Mitchell song Case of You from the album Blue. “I always try to submit something every year as the RGI is very special to me,” says Helen who studied at Glasgow School of Art in the early 70s. “Receiving a prize at this stage in my career means even more to me.” Helen has also been awarded the Crinan Residency Prize (see below). 

The N S Macfarlane Charitable Trust Award £1,000
Phil McLoughlin
Newport on Tay
Five years ago, after a long and successful career as psychotherapist, Phil McLoughlin returned to his first love of painting, and it was clearly the right decision as this is the first time he has submitted work to the annual show.
“I usually work in oils and this is the first time that I’ve worked in acrylic. Altarpiece operates on a number of levels for me,” says Phil, who is originally from Dunfermline. It’s about worship in an increasingly secular Scottish society, and I chose objects such as Mother’s Pride Bread and a paper plane from an Oor Wullie Book as references to what has become important to us.
“After 35 years of listening to other people telling their story, it seemed time to tell mine and express some of the lessons I’ve learned from life that are meaningful to me.” 

City of Glasgow Prize £1,000
The Pursuit of Ecstasy
Ian Moir BA (Hons) Fine Art
This is the first time that Ian, who graduated in 2000 from Glasgow School of Art where he studied drawing and painting, has submitted to the annual show. He has had solo exhibitions in Edinburgh, London and the United States, and works full-time as an artist in Dunfermline.
Ian says his work is inspired by meditation, nature and local history, and has a particular fascination with the rundown industrial buildings of his home town.
“I'm delighted to have won this prize and am greatly encouraged by it. Although I have exhibited work in galleries over the years, I am currently seeking representation in Scotland. Although I've proven that my work is commercially viable, I still consider it to be alternative in method, style, and content. It is reassuring, therefore, to be selected by the RGI for this prize.”

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Award £1,000
Charing Cross in the Rain
Alastair Strachan BA Drawing & Painting
From tenements in his native Glasgow to Hong Kong high rises, artist Alastair Strachan’s fascination with urban life around the world is the inspiration behind many of his paintings.
Explains Alastair, who graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1981:“The paintings are of places visited and experienced in person but also seen through the eyes of others, researched from the
comfort of home through the online records of personal journeys of other travellers.”
Alastair was shortlisted for the Jolomo Scottish Landscape Awards 2009, and his paintings are held in various collections in the UK, Canada, Hong Kong and Germany, and he recently had a solo show, Cityscapes, at the RGI Kelly Gallery.

House for an Art Lover £1,000
Stacks - North East
Philip Reeves RSA PPRSW RGI RE
As one of the founders of both the Edinburgh and Glasgow Print Studios, and the former head of printmaking at Glasgow School of Art (1979-91) Philip Reeves, who studied at Cheltenham School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London, has devoted much of his career to encouraging young artists.
Philip, who lives in Glasgow, was inspired to paint Stacks-North East through his affection for the Caithness landscape and the Duncansby Stacks in particular. “They are such a beautiful colour of red and the stones, while horizontal are sometimes built in a very upright way.”
Philip’s work is held in many public collections including the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art and the V&A in London.

The Armour Award £1,000
The Edge of the World
Saul Robertson
Glasgow based artist Saul Robertson is no stranger to receiving awards. As a student at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art (1996-2000), Saul won The Ninewells MRI Imaging Purchase Prize. Soon after graduating he was voted Young Artist of the Year at The Hunting Art Prizes at the Royal College of Art in London.  Since then he has won numerous awards including The City of Glasgow Prize, The David Cargill Senior Award, and The David Cargill Award, all at the RGI annual show. In 2005 he won second prize at the BP Portrait award in London.
For The Edge of the World, I built a statuette from still life objects including ceramics,” explains Saul. “While I was painting it, the whole thing collapsed, which felt like a disaster at the time, but I re-built it and was able to finish the painting.”

Crinan Residency
Rigoletto Rigout
Helen Wilson
Helen Wilson (see above) who also won The Walter Scott Purchase Prize, will spend one week’s residency at Crinan Hotel, Argyll, followed by an exhibition at the Crinan Gallery.

The Mabel Mackinlay Award £500
Margaretann Bennett BA(Hons) RSW
This is the fifth RGI award for Glasgow based artist Margaretann Bennett, who graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1991. There is always a strong sense of the individual about Margaretann’s work, and Spell follows on from previous paintings featuring dark figurative ideas. “It’s a large work with two spooky ladies, with white abstracted shapes in the torso area which represent feelings about the body both physically and emotionally,” explains Margaretann. “It’s a momento mori piece reminding us of the brief timescale of life and to enjoy it while we can.” As well as the annual show, Margaretann is currently exhibiting at the Smithy Gallery in Blanefield.

Cuthbert ‘New Young Artist’ Award £500
Barry McGlashan BA(Hons)
Born and raised in Aberdeen, Barry McGlashan studied painting at Gray’s School of Art, graduating in 1996 with first class honours. He later returned to teach in the drawing and painting department until 2005 when he left to pursue painting full time. He has exhibited widely in both solo and group exhibitions with his work being held in many private and public collections both in the UK and abroad.
In 2001, Barry was awarded The Alastair Salvesen Scholarship through The Royal Scottish Academy which allowed him to travel to the States for three months. Since that time he has continued to travel extensively in America, a country which continues to fascinate him and influence his work
Fishing is an oil on canvas and is part of a series of works on isolation, a situation Barry is not unfamiliar with working alone in the artist’s studio. The painting was inspired by the fishing huts of Minnesota, which Barry visited during the scholarship.

Art Hire Framing Prize £500
Inside my Drawers
Fran Hanley BA (Hons) Fine Art
A lot of life has happened to Fran Hanley since graduating from Camberwell School of Art in 1987, but it wasn’t until the age of 45, during a visit to a Hebridean beach that she had her ‘Geronimo’ moment of inspiration. “It felt like my artistic life really started then, as over the years I was bringing up my children as a single parent and teaching full-time.
“I’d bought a camper van and started filling it with 
flotsam and jetsam picked up on beaches during my travels, but it wasn’t until that day in the beach that my artistic life truly took off.”  
The prizewinning work is based around a printer’s tray which Fran came across and has filled with found pieces, each with their own identity. Fran lives and works in Glasgow and has recently exhibited at the Mansfield Park Gallery in Partick.

The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts Exhibition £500 
On the Way Back
Mhairi Malcolm BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting
This is the first time that Glaswegian artist Mhairi Malcolm, who studied at Gray’s School of Art has won a prize at the annual show. “A lot of my work is inspired by journeys, and this piece in particular features remnants of the landscape which I’ve gathered and abstracted from materials I’ve come across on a journey. “I’d like to produce a body of work on journeys and I’d love to exhibit at the RGI as so many of the journeys centre on the city of Glasgow itself.”

A4A Art Foundry Prize 
Duncan McLaren
Balfron, Stirlingshire
Duncan studied at Glasgow School of Art in the 1960s, a time when the sculpture department was being infused with fresh ideas. Although he kept his hand in at sculpture, Duncan followed a career in industry and education, but is now focusing on art almost full-time.
“I’m developing the work that’s gone before, and there is a figurative origin to it. The current piece,Torso, is identifiable but is also detached from a stylistic point of view. It’s made from polyester resin surface medium with an aluminium matrix at the base. It’s quite a slow process as you are applying small quantities at a time.”
The Foundry Prize involves the creating of an 8in maquette which is cast in bronze, and Duncan will be invited to observe the final casting process.

David Gilchrist Memorial Award £250
Standing Woman and Landscape
Audrey Grant
Audrey studied at The Leith School of Art, an independent art college, from 1991 –1992 and 2002 – 2004. Born in Falkirk, Audrey grew up in Grangemouth and has lived in Edinburgh for over 20 years. This the first time that Audrey has exhibited at the annual show
“The painting,Standing Woman and Landscape, was created last spring, and the single figure is presently my main subject matter,” explains Audrey. “It seeks to explore the figure’s presence in space, an often unspecified space/landscape. I suppose I am interested in how the body expresses something essentially about being human.
“I am delighted to win this award, as it means a great deal to me to receive affirmation for my work and I am very grateful to the RGI for making the award to me.”

James Torrance Memorial Award £250
The Return of Magda the Magnificent
Alice McMurrough
Kirkintilloch G66
Alice left teaching in 2007 to concentrate on painting full-time and was preparing for her first solo show within months. She has since won several
awards and exhibited widely.
“I paint every day, often until late in the evening, creating from memories of particular events and also general influences such as family legends, cultural myths and religious fables. I often find archetypes in old children’s books, toys and television programmes. I aim for an attention that children have for the world, before ritual and maturity strips life of its daily magic.
The Return of Magda the Magnificent is returning from a difficult journey to a place of peace, which is symbolised by the family croft at the foothills of Quirang in the Trotternish ridge in Skye.

Milly and Benno Schotz Award £250
Yulia Podolska BA MA Sculpture
Rye, East Sussex
The late sculptor Benno Schotz would have approved that the winner of this award, Yulia Podolska, has Estonian grandparents, as Schotz was originally from Estonia. Yulia, who now lives in Rye, West Sussex, is from the former Soviet Union and arrived in the UK in January 2010.
Her family were Soviet sportsmen, her mother a rhythmic gymnast and her father a biathlete, while her grandfather was once an Estonian weightlifting champion.
The 14-year-old Podolska became fascinated with art following a trip to the Hermitage in St Petersburg, and took up drawing as a result.
A family friend was so impressed that he took the young artist to the Kiev Academy of Fine Art where, at the age of 16, she was offered a place at one of the most prestigious art teaching institutions in Ukraine.
Montanka is based on a traditional Ukrainian doll made by winding yarn and fabric round an iron armature. That the doll is unravelling is Yulia’s representation of what is happening to Ukrainian culture at the moment.

The Art Exposure Gallery Award £250
The Acrobat
Kevin Low
This is the second time that Glasgow artist Kevin Low, who gave up an established career as a theatre photographer to become artist, has successfully submitted work to the show.
“When I was chosen last year, it spurred me on to contact galleries and I now have show coming up in Edinburgh. It’s such a boost to your confidence.”  The Acrobat is a digital painting inspired by pre-Victorian Staffordshire figures. The technique is similar to painting and involves drawing on to a digital tablet, then adding colour on top of colour. Kevin plans to use the prize to buy more Staffordshire figures to inspire him.

The Glasgow Art Club Awards
A Scot’s Quair
Elspeth Lamb RSA RGI
A Scot’s Quair is a lithograph printed from stone
during Elspeth’s residency in Newfoundland and the title is inspired by a poem written by King James 1. “It was a laborious process as the stone was so huge that I needed a fork-lift truck to move it. You paint on to the stone directly and then it goes through a chemical process with gums and acids,” says Elspeth, who graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1973. She is delighted with her membership to the Glasgow Art Club. “Artists are usually skint so meeting other artists in such a special setting will be a particular luxury.”

Herbal Jar and Fruit
Simon Laurie
Since studying drawing and painting at the Glasgow School of Art, Simon has had several one-man shows in London and in Scotland, with his work held by well-known collections including the Contemporary Arts Society in London and Aberdeen Art Gallery.
“I’d always wanted to go to art school and Jim McNaught (also a prizewinner) my art teacher at secondary school was really encouraging,” recalls Simon, who mainly works on contemporary semi-abstract, still life and landscape paintings. “Then at art school, Barbara Rae (also an RGI) was equally supportive.”
For several years in succession, Simon was arts convener of the RGI, and his chief hanger of this year’s hanging committee.

1 comment:

  1. So very interesting, what an array of work....thank you for bringing this to my attention....charlie o"sullivan x


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