Entries open for Scottish Portrait Awards

Entries for the first Scottish Portrait Awards are now open.
Entries for the first Scottish Portrait Awards are now open.

Entries for the nation’s first Scottish Portrait Awards (SPA) are now open.

The new competition aims to discover the best portraits by 60 fine artists and photographers born, living or studying in Scotland, that will feature in a month-long exhibition to be held in the capital. In addition, the overall winner of the SPA in Fine Art will receive £5000 while the winner of the Richard Coward SPA in Photography will get £2000. Other major prizes include a £3000 portrait commission from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

“This is an exceptional opportunity for our fine artists and photographers during a unique period in Scotland’s history. We want them to challenge, entertain and inspire us with their vision of how we see ourselves and others,” said fine contemporary artist Gordon Mitchell, who is the Director of the Scottish Portrait Awards and chairs the SPA Fine Art Panel. “Through the exhibition and the awards we aim to create an important new platform for showcasing exceptional Scottish talent, and collectively create what will amount to a virtual national portrait of our times.”

Entrants have until May 31 to send in digital images of their works via the SPA website at www.scottishportraitawards.org. After that it will be up to the judges to choose the 60 finalists who will feature in the exhibition as well as the winners of the big prizes.

Judges for the fine art competition include celebrated artist and playwright John Byrne; Imogen Gibbon, chief curator at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Guy Peploe, director of the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh; multiple award-winning portrait artist Jennifer McRae, and Gordon Mitchell, a member of the Scottish Academy who has exhibited widely in Scotland and internationally. The panel selecting the winner of the Richard Coward SPA in Photography include Ben Harman from Edinburgh’s Stills Gallery, Malcolm Dickson of Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow and Siobhán Coward, widow of Richard Coward.

Mitchell said: “We have purposely made the fine art competition as broad as possible. Works may be entered in any 2D or 3D format and in any material. The only restrictions are on the size of the work.”

The SPA in Photography is held in memory of esteemed photographer Richard Coward and seeks excellence in black and white portraiture.

“Richard was especially known for his iconic black and white photographic portraits from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s,” said Siobhán, who chairs the SPA Photography Panel. A selection of Richard’s photographic work is held in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Scottish Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. Other portraits by him are held in private collections in the UK and worldwide.

The November 2017 exhibition of the Scottish Portrait Awards will be held at the Scottish Arts Club in Rutland Square, Edinburgh.

The winner of the £2,000 Richard Coward SPA in Photography will be announced at the launch of the photography exhibition to be held on Friday, November 3. The winner of the £5,000 SPA in Fine Art will follow on Saturday, November 4. The winner of the £3000 RIAS commission, which could be any of the 2D fine art finalists, will follow soon afterwards. Winners of the overall SPA competitions will also be presented with two-years free membership of the Scottish Arts Club.

The Scottish Portrait Awards are an initiative of the Scottish Arts Club Charitable Trust. Entry to the competition costs £10 per work. The work of the trustees, the members of the SPA Committee and the judges is entirely voluntary. Any proceeds raised through the competition will be used to support the Scottish Portrait Awards, including the SPA outreach programme.