Paolozzi prize inspires city pupils to great artistic feats

ART students from schools across the Capital will compete for a prestigious new art prize which honours world-renowned sculptor Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.

ART students from schools across the Capital will compete for a prestigious new art prize which honours world-renowned sculptor Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.

Fifth and sixth-year art pupils will compete for the annual Paolozzi Prize for Art, which celebrates the work of the Leith-born artist who died at the age of 81 in 2005.

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Winners will be selected by a panel of judges from the professional art community, with arts impresario Richard Demarco expected to be among them.

Mr Demarco, 81, who lives in the New Town and attended the same school as Paolozzi – the former Holy Cross Academy in Leith – told the Evening News he would consider it a “great honour” to be a judge.

“I think the Paolozzi Prize for Art is a marvellous idea.

“I was asked by the art teacher at Holy Cross Academy when he [Paolozzi] left school to sit in the seat that he used.

“From the very earliest days, I knew that I had to follow in his footsteps. I’ll never forget how I felt sitting at his desk. When I saw his sketch books, I knew he was a genius.”

Teachers from every secondary school will be encouraged to nominate pupils under three categories – talent and creativity, overcoming barriers and new directions. First prize in the competition will be £500, with the three category winners each receiving £250.

Today’s launch at the City Art Centre was set to be attended by Paolozzi’s sister Yolanda Tartaglia, as well as city education leader Marilyne MacLaren and pupils and art teachers from Balerno and Boroughmuir high schools.

Plans for a competition were first drawn up by Lib Dem councillor Paul Edie seven years ago as a tribute to the “magnificent contribution Sir Eduardo made to modern art during his lifetime”.

Cllr Edie said: “My mother was at school with Eduardo Paolozzi. When he died, I put a motion to the council saying we should have a prize to recognise him. He’s the most significant Scottish artist of the 20th century and someone who has brought an immense amount of credit to the city.”

Yolanda, 79, who lives in Sighthill, said: “I’m so proud. I think it’s fantastic that youngsters can appreciate his work. The art prize will let people know all the different concepts that he did.

“It wasn’t just sculptures – it was all forms of art. He always had a pencil in his hand and his head was full of ideas.”

The first award will be presented at an awards ceremony in June.

City council director of children and families, Gillian Tee, said: “The Paolozzi Prize aims to be a prestigious award for talented young people which, over time, the art colleges should recognise as significant evidence of talent and potential”.

Mr Paolozzi, who studied at the Edinburgh College of Art, was an important figure in modern art, being widely regarded as the founder of the Pop Art movement. A number of his works can be seen in the Capital, including a giant sculpture of a foot outside St Mary’s Cathedral at the top of Leith Walk, which was the church he attended as a boy.

Cllr MacLaren said: “Art plays a very important role in city life and in schools throughout Edinburgh. The Paolozzi Art Prize will be a great way to encourage young people to be creative and follow in the steps of a cutting-edge Edinburgh artist.

“Who knows, maybe we will find the Paolozzi of a new generation!”