A YOUNG landscape painter from the Borders has scooped the largest privately-funded art award in the UK.
Anna King, 23, collected the inaugural 20,000 Jolomo Lloyds TSB Scotland Award, with the prize money paid by the popular landscape painter John Lowrie Morrison. More than 80 painters had applied.
Ms King's appealing landscapes in pale colours, from run-down farm buildings to windmills dotted across the countryside, saw her picked to win the award from a shortlist of nine.
The painter graduated from Dundee's Duncan of Jordanstone College only two years ago. She has already had several solo gallery shows across Scotland, including one at Edinburgh's well-known Open Eye Gallery.
Her works have been shown from St Andrews to the Glasgow Art Fair. She has won the Royal Scottish Academy's student landscape prize. In 2006 she was invited to paint in Joan Eardley's old studio, the Watch House, at Catterline near Aberdeen.
Duncan Macmillan, The Scotsman's art critic and an author, yesterday praised Jolomo's generosity in making the award.
He said: "It's unlikely to be seen as cutting edge, with Jolomo behind it. On the other hand it is a very good thing to have that chunk of money. It's going to mean a couple of years when Anna can sit down and work, it will keep her going."
Guy Peploe, director of the Scottish Gallery, said the award could bring attention to the overlooked art of landscape painting when all the focus was on the "cutting edge". He said: "There's no question this is a generous initiative. Twenty-thousand will clearly allow her, if she has a sensitive and mature attitude, if she doesn't buy a lot of champagne, to buy a lot of studio time."
Alex Salmond, the First Minister, visited the awards exhibition last night. He said: "This first year of the awards has attracted a wonderful range of high-quality entries, and I congratulate Anna and all those who have taken part."
In an all-women list of winners, the painter Helen Glassford was in second place, winning 4,000, and in joint third place were Rebecca Firth and Ingrid Fraser, each winning 3,000.
The awards were announced at a dinner last night and Ms King was not available for comment.
The competition included Willie Fulton, painting professionally for the first time at 61, and David Cook, who graduated more than 20 years before Ms King at Dundee.
Artists had to be living or working in Scotland and in most cases studied at a Scottish college of art within the last five years; those without formal qualifications had to be proposed and approved by a suitably-qualified referee.
The prize was seen as the opposite of the Turner Prize for contemporary art. Entrants were asked for up to ten finished landscape paintings and sketches. Morrison has paid all the prize money in the biannual awards, with Lloyds TSB supporting the running of the show.
Morrison said: "Art is influential in our society. My hope is that these awards will be of influence, as the winners are of the highest calibre.
"Anna King's wonderful work shows great potential to developing further so that she will become part of the next generation of Scottish landscape painters."