The biggest arts prize in Scotland, the Jolomo awards have rejuvenated landscape painting in this country. Here, Susan Mansfield looks at the nine-strong shortlist in the running to win £25,000
Where does the future of Scottish landscape painting lie? Perhaps in the hands of Hyojun Hyun, 29, who came to Glasgow from Seoul, South Korea, and has developed his own unique take on the wastelands and parks of the city.
Or in the hands of Edinburgh-based Ruth Nicol, 46, who left a career in financial services to go to art school, and whose recent paintings are inspired by the post-industrial vistas of Leith docks. Or in the hands of Dawnne McGeachy, 43, a fisherman’s daughter from Kintyre, who is inspired by the power and mystery of the sea.
These are just three of the nine artists on the shortlist for the Jolomo Bank of Scotland Awards 2013, the largest art prize in Scotland. With a total prize money of £35,000, the awards are aimed at emerging artists painting the Scottish landscape. On 19 June, at a gala dinner at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in Glasgow, one of the artists featured on these pages will be named as the winner of the £25,000 top prize.
The awards were founded in 2006 by the artist John Lowrie Morrison – known as “Jolomo” – whose brightly coloured landscapes have made him one of the most successful painters in Scotland. He says: “In the mid 1990s, art in Scotland had taken a turn away from painting and in particular the painting of the Scottish landscape. I felt I had to give something back to the Scotland I love and support new and emerging artists with the aim of reviving Scottish landscape painting, a tradition that goes back over 250 years. Now landscape painting in Scotland is again in a healthy state, with artists coming to the fore with fresh and exciting work.”
He said he was delighted with the quality and diversity of this year’s entries – the highest number the awards has ever received. They were also the most international group of entries ever, with artists hailing from Poland, Trinidad and Korea who are now living and working in Scotland.
The final shortlist reflects a diverse range of backgrounds and interests, with artists ranging in age from 26 to 62 (there is no upper age limit for entries), and stretching from Ross-shire in the north to Jedburgh in the south.
a Catharine Davison
Studied: Liverpool John Moores University; Buckingham Chilterns University College of Art & Design
• Davison aims to demonstrate “a new approach to a familiar subject” by following in a long tradition – artists who paint landscape in the open air. “A sense of place lies at the heart of my art practice. I connect with places and locations by making drawings and paintings directly from source. Working in all weather conditions and seasons, with follow-up reflection and refinement in my studio, I explore and challenge my obsession for making work in the plein air tradition. Since relocating to Edinburgh in 2007, I have developed a growing personal relationship with the city’s unique urban
b Amy Dennis
Studied: Leeds College of Art; Edinburgh College of Art
• Dennis’s take on the Scottish landscape is shaped by her use of the ancient and challenging technique of egg tempera – painting with raw pigment bound with egg yolk and distilled water on gesso (rabbit skin glue and chalk whiting). “I am interested in natural and manmade objects arranged in Scottish landscape, seascape and townscape. I am inspired by modern Scottish landscape painters that reference realism, surrealism and abstraction. Public art, monuments, architectural ornament and structure, formal gardens, allotments and ephemeral details are organised as foreground objects before an observed view.”
c Hyojun Hyun
Studied: Hong-Ik University, Seoul; Glasgow School of Art
• Since arriving in Glasgow to study on the MFA course at Glasgow School of Art, Hyojun has become fascinated by the way the changeable weather can show the city in unexpected lights.
“I am interested in capturing the fleeting moments of the uncanny as I experience them in my daily life.
“What intrigues me is how a familiar scene can change into something unique and unexpected. Living in Glasgow, intervals of sunshine during the many cloudy days permit me to experience stronger sensations of light and colour in ways that are very different from Seoul.”
d Philip MacEachan
Lives: Tore, Ross-Shire
Studied: Moray College (University of the Highlands & Islands)
• MacEachan moved to the Highlands and started studying for an art degree after taking early retirement from his job as a retail design manager for HSBC. He was inspired to make work about the Clearances after researching his family history.
“As my ancestors were cleared from Arisaig and Kildonan, the causes, experience and aftermath of the Highland Clearances provide an emotive starting point to my work.
“It is an opportunity to better understand that moment in history by examining the role of each of the main players: the authorities, landlords, factors, tenant farmers and cottars.
“Capturing the splendour of the ever-changing but rugged conditions of the Highlands and Islands is central.”
e Dawnne McGeachy
Studied: Glasgow School of Art, Ohio
• McGeachy who grew up in Kintyre, describes the subject of her paintings as “the sublime grandeur and mystery of the ocean”.
“Growing up, I was obsessed by the scale of the ocean, its physicality, poetry and my father’s voyages on it to catch fish. I loved his tales of the stars on a clear night and their use in navigation.
“However, the flipside of this was being awoken by terrifying wind and rain, knowing my dad was out there on a 45ft skiff.
“As the child of a fisherman, I was aware of what the sea gave but also what it was capable of taking away. I felt if I could understand the mechanics of the sea, I might be able to control it.”
f David McGill
Studied: Glasgow School of Art
• McGill says the starting point for his landscape paintings are images which are seen as “branded, clichéd and unarguably Scottish”. Then he alters and interacts with them as he paints.
“We are bombarded with images at every point of our day, and images of the Scottish landscape are no exception. I hope that through the act of painting this familiar subject I can create something more interesting and contemplative, something which can be appreciated by all but also allows us to consider how we interact with our Scottish identity and with the art of painting.”
g Ruth Nicol
Studied: Edinburgh College of Art
• Nicol left her job in financial services in 2006 to take a degree at Edinburgh College of Art.
“My inspiration and passion is Scotland and I love to investigate both the urban and rural aspects of the land. I am proud to be able to describe myself as a Scottish landscape painter and relish the opportunity of following in this long and noble tradition. There is often a sense of movement or travel in my work. Sometimes, it may be an expression of an emotional journey, or a reflection of memories, such as those of childhood family holidays in Leadhills, Dumfries & Galloway.”
h Anne Rae
Studied: Napier University; Borders College
• Central to Rae’s current work is Dob’s Linn, a hill near Moffat, which conceals a rich treasure trove of geological heritage. Her three-dimensional structures explore and celebrate this history.
“This very ordinary-looking linn unpretentiously symbolises truly momentous geologic occasions. It is an infinite source of inspiration. This work is an ongoing exploration of early life, relating to a geologic era millions of years ago.”
g Jonathan Shearer
Lives: Alness, Ross-shire
Studied: Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen; Cyprus College of Art
• Shearer’s paintings of mountains and moorlands are directly informed by his experiences of walking and painting in the Highlands.
“My paintings are concerned with trying to convey the sensation of being immersed in the landscape, the wind in your face, the soft bogginess of the moor beneath your feet, the clouds enveloping the mountain, the sheer exhilaration of wild places.
“Through a process of working repeatedly in places chosen and revisited many time, I have developed an intimate connection with the wild places of Scotland.”