Rope and steel sculpture wins Glenfiddich art gong

Ben Martin, pictured here with his work, Line and Weight, at the RSA Contemporaries Exhibition. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Ben Martin, pictured here with his work, Line and Weight, at the RSA Contemporaries Exhibition. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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A SCULPTOR from Aberdeen has been named the winner of Scotland’s newest art prize - with a work made from rope and steel weights.

Ben Martin has won a three-month residency to work at Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown, in Speyside, after claiming the whisky brand’s prestigious new honour.

Ben Martin, pictured here with his work, Line and Weight, at the RSA Contemporaries Exhibition. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Ben Martin, pictured here with his work, Line and Weight, at the RSA Contemporaries Exhibition. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Martin, who has won the Glenfiddich Artist In Residence Award, will also have his work displayed at the distillery, which receives around 75,000 visitors a year, as part of his prize.

It was selected from work by 70 artists taking part in a new showcase of emerging talent, which is at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh from today. Their work was drawn from graduates of every art school in Scotland last year.

The 30-year-old, who grew up in Aberdeen, studied multimedia design at Aberdeen College, before studying sculpture at Gray’s School of Art in the city.

Martin, who will be able to take advantage of a fully-equipped house and studio, said: “My overwhelming focus is on personal experience.

Ben Martin, pictured here with his work, Line and Weight, at the RSA Contemporaries Exhibition. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Ben Martin, pictured here with his work, Line and Weight, at the RSA Contemporaries Exhibition. Picture: Ian Rutherford

“The simple development of loading weight on the end of a line of rope and creating tension allows me to draw in a three-dimensional space.”

The prize, worth £10,000. was launched earlier this year under a new partnership between the RSA and William Grant and Sons, owners of the distillery. Martin will join seven other artists from around the world who will be based at the distillery this summer.

The Glenfiddich Artists in Residence programme - believed to be the largest privately funded artists residency programme in Scotland - has hosted more than 100 artists from 20 countries, including the USA, China, India, Spain and Chile since 2002. Among the Scottish artists to have taken part have been Alison Watt, Christine Borland, Louise Hopkins, Kenny Hunter and Alex Frost.

Andy Fairgrieve, programme coordinator, said: “The standard of presentations in this year’s exhibition is a great reflection of the amazing pool of creative talent emerging from Scotland’s schools of art and design. As judges, we had our work cut out in selecting a single winner.”

RSA director Colin Greenslade added: “This award is an amazing opportunity for an emerging artist to engage not only with their own practice but with the research and making processes of their international peers at Glenfiddich.

“This fantastic prize of studio, stipend and production fees, along with exhibition and collection opportunities, will stand Ben in great stead.”

Martin will be one of several artists taking part in the RSA’s New Contemporaries exhibition, which runs until 8 April, whose work will then go on display at the Fleming Collection gallery in Mayfair, London, in the spring and summer.

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