More of a puff than a blogpost, this week I wants to tell peeps about the Scottish Portrait Awards, a competition and exhibition what I helps to organise.
This is the third year of operation, and we go from strength to strength. We may not have the reach or the big prizes of the (international) BP awards, but then, neither do we have an unhealthily dull obsession with photorealism, nor a sponsor whose environmental and business practices … let’s just say might cause consternation (rightly or wrongly) in some ‘woke’ quarters.
I have to be honest, as the admin wallah I watched the first few entries arrive in my inbox in late 2016 and my heart sank. The standard, while not reeking of total incompetence, was not particularly high, to say the least. But then, as the months for entries passed, that standard got so good, I was wondering how on earth the judges could select only sixty to represent the cream of Scottish photography and paintery. And this got more the case in the last week or so, when most of the bloody entries come in as a veritable tsunami, keeping me up until the wee smalls, cataloguing them and preparing them to pass to the judges stripped of all identifying marks, save image, title, size and materials used. Some stunning stuff was flooding in.
I also do the admin duties for our short story and flash fiction competitions (being the only member of the Scottish Arts Club who can spell kompewter); they too come in mostly in the latter days, but while the graph there is a steady upward curve, artists, especially the ‘Fine Art’ entrants leave things very much to a ‘hockey-stick’ last minute. I learned in 2017 that it is a mistake to book a 0630 flight to Paris for the day after one is processing entries until 4am!
Entries are open to anyone born, living or studying in Bonnie Scotland, for paintings or sculptures and black and white photography. What has impressed me most has been the variety of styles and ideas, and a willingness among artists and photographers to push the boundaries of what a portrait actually is — and of our judges to consider all these ideas; one of our first finalist snappers had a picture of her sister, curled up on the floor, with her back to the camera, but the title, My Twin, filled that with meaning. And our illustrious judging panels are open to (and vigorously debate) many and varied styles — yes, even photorealism.
This year’s show, which will now travel to Glasgow and Kirkcudbright in the New Year, opened to Club members last night, with a lively bash, where wine and conversation flowed freely until the early morn. We have works in oil and acrylic of course, but also in layered glass, porcelain and even papier-mâché. On Thursday night, we have the official opening for the photographers and on Friday it will be the fine artists’ turn (not that we’re suggesting photography is not a fine art, but one needs some sort of label). I suppose I’ll have to go along for a glass or three. It’s a hard life.
And then it’s a public thing for the rest of the month. We open our doors to the great unwashed (this means you) between two and five every day except Sundays and Mondays. Absolutely free, though you might well want to purchase one of the masterpieces for yourself — or at least the very wonderful catalogue for a fiver.
Who are the winners? Who will be taking away the prizes, ranging from £100 to £5,000? This year we’re adding an elephant of suspense, by not revealing that until a special bash (more free drinks for the admin guy, yay!) on November 13th. Check out the website if the suspense is killing you. I have no idea who’s been chosen, so I’m sad to say not even bribery will help you there.
I have to get on with painting one of my own for next month’s members show. I’m not allowed to enter the competition I administer, of course. Just as well, as I’d be a shoo-in!