The Scottish Portrait Awards 2022 winners have been announced with the smallest works in the exhibition winning the biggest prizes of the competition.
Managed entirely by volunteers on behalf of the Scottish Arts Trust, the annual awards are open to anyone over 16, born, living or studying in Scotland.
Sam Dalby from Moffat scooped the biggest prize in the competition – the new Sutherland Independent Scottish Portrait Award in Fine Art along with £5,000.
His painting ‘Meeting Daniel’ is a posthumous portrait of his mother, meeting her grandson Daniel for the first time.
Meanwhile former medical and police photographer Kit Martin, who lives in Newport-on-Tay, won the Richard Coward Scottish Portrait Award in Photography and £3,000 with her portrait of Mhairi, host and owner of Island Darkroom in Lewis.
Presenting the award in fine art, Gordon Mitchell, director of the Scottish Portrait Awards and chair of the fine art panel, said: “Not only is Sam’s technical mastery evident in ‘Meeting Daniel’ but the sensitivity in conveying his emotional engagement with the subject and the tangible joy of a grandmother holding her grandchild for the first time, made this sincere painting stand out.”
On learning of the award, having not won a prize in his career before, Mr Dalby commented: “I did not expect this small tribute to my late mother would ever win such an accolade. I was just trying to encapsulate my love for her in paint, as I certainly can’t do that in words.
“The fact that others feel that this painting has done this successfully, makes me feel a glow of pride that I have seldom felt in my career. My heartfelt thanks go to the Scottish Arts Trust for this award.”
Speaking of Ms Martin’s work, Siobhán Coward, chair of the photography panel, said: “’Mhairi’ may be the smallest photographic work in the exhibition yet its ability to draw the viewer in to discover the many layers of film which make up the composition – from Mhairi’s gaze to her attire and surrounding interior of the bothy – gives it a tangible sense of depth and mystery. You want to lift this work, hold it, explore it. It has an exquisite appeal.”
Photographer Ms Martin added: “I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded first prize in the Scottish Portrait Photography Award. It has come as a wonderful surprise and is still sinking in.
“This award will give me increased confidence to work more with my Intrepid 4×5 field camera and take more portraits with it, while continuing to experiment with double exposures.”
A total of 60 works are shortlisted in this year’s exhibition which sees works of art draw on personal and universal narratives – from identity and family, to loss and personal reflections.
Esther Forse won the Young Fine Artist Award with her painting of her sister ‘Imogen at 18’ with the subject’s facial expression provoking debate amongst the judging panel about the subject’s emotion.
Rosie Biggar collected the Young Photographer Award and £500 prize with her portrait of Rob Schofield, frontman for the band Priestgate.
The judges not only praised the image for the passion and intensity it conveyed, with its echoes of rock and roll photography from a bygone era, but also the quality of the print which had the appeal of a handmade screen print.
The Young Photographer Commendation was awarded to Ellis Bairstow with his sensitive layered photograph ‘Mother’, an image taken shortly after his family’s move to Scotland and the loss of his maternal grandfather.
This year, free entry to the Scottish Portrait Awards was offered to artists living in Scotland who receive any form of income support or Universal Credit.
The Scottish Arts Trust Bursary Fund was also established to enhance opportunities for artists who are struggling.
The 2022 exhibition launches at the Scottish Arts Club, Edinburgh from September 10 and is set to run until October 1, 2022 travelling to Duff House, Banff from October 14, 2022 to February 26, 2023 and then to the Charles Rennie Macintosh Gallery at the Glasgow Art Club from March 4 until March 31, 2023.
Entries to take part in the Scottish Portrait Awards 2023 will open on January 1 to April 30 2023, with the exhibition expanding to include 50 photographic works in colour as well as black and white.
The 2023 Scottish Portrait Awards will also include the launch of the MPB sponsored awards including the MPB Scottish Portrait Award in Photography (colour) and the MPB Scottish Portrait Award in Photography (black and white) as well as the new SPA Albert Watson Portrait Prize in photography and the new online SPA Phone Portrait Photography Award.