Schools art competition encourages pupils to look again at natural world - Iona Laing

We need to be creative in how we engage with youngsters. That’s why as pupils return to school for the beginning of a new school year we have once again launched our GWCT Schools Art Competition across Perth and Kinross, Angus and Aberdeenshire.

Youngsters are invited to submit a piece of artwork showing their favourite species of British game or wildlife in its natural habitat.

The aim of the competition is to encourage pupils to do a little research into some of our native species of game and wildlife and, in the process, learn more about these animals and birds, their preferred habitat and what they eat. The more youngsters can be encouraged to engage in these topics and find out information then the more they will learn about the countryside and hopefully go on to find a passion and interest, and possibly even a career that involves working in and protecting our rural environment.

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One exciting aspect of this year’s art competition is the new format for the prizegiving. This will be staged at Fingask Castle, Perthshire and pupils, parents and teachers will all be invited to come and enjoy a day of activities including falconry displays, seeing gun dogs at work, art workshops in the castle, game cookery and tasting and estate activities organised by Scotland’s regional moorland groups. Of course, our regular prizes of farm visits and art workshops will also be awarded, as well as art materials, books, vouchers and certificates.

Previous competition winner Matteo pictured drawing in Mel Shand’s studio.Previous competition winner Matteo pictured drawing in Mel Shand’s studio.
Previous competition winner Matteo pictured drawing in Mel Shand’s studio.

The GWCT Schools Art Competition which has steadily expanded over the years is only possible with the support of other organisations including the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) and Scotland’s regional moorland groups. It would also not be possible without the help of the artists who both judge the entries and offer prizes.

Julian Jardine of Jardine Gallery, Perth has supported the competition for over 15 years offering clay workshops as prizes. Mel Shand, the Finzean-based wildlife artist welcomes winners to her home where they can enjoy private art lessons, and this year we also welcome Emily Crookshank, whose studio is in Glenshee, to the competition team. Emily was one of our Artists in Action at the 2022 GWCT Scottish Game Fair, and her art is inspired by the wilds of the Cairngorms.

So, this year is particularly exciting and especially the day of activities to be held at the wonderful Fingask Castle. In addition, we have opened up the competition to cover the whole of Aberdeenshire offering the opportunity for many more pupils to get involved. I can’t wait to see the talent that comes in from all regions. Engaging our youngsters in the countryside and some of the valuable conservation work the Trust is involved in is a part of GWCT’s mission and, whilst playing just a small part, we hope to inspire long term interest in protecting game and wildlife and their habitats for generations to come.

Information packs are being sent out to all schools and will also be available on the GWCT website

Iona Laing, Education and Events Scotland, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust



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