Three students at Gray’s School of Art have picked up prizes in the fourth annual SPD painting awards.
The awards, which aim to nurture local talent and bring art to the oil and gas community, were presented to the second and third year painting students by SPD Group HSEQ Manager, Stuart Insch and PA to the Managing Director, Laura Mylles, who made up this year’s judging panel.
First prize, of £350, went to Hannah Murray (21), who is originally from Inverness, for her painting entitled ‘Would to Heaven…’, which is inspired by the theme of conflict and the letters that those at the front lines sent home.
The painting includes a quote from one letter which reads, “Would to Heaven that I could bear for you the concentrated woe which is so soon to follow.”
Hannah said: “I was looking at the idea of hand writing and hand written recipes and their connotations of home, and was inspired by letters and writing during conflict. It is about considering this idea of an idyllic home life and how different things can turn out in reality.”
She added: “I am interested in history and the way people were caught up in conflicts while life continued to go on at home. It is about people writing home and longing to return home, and for me, food is very much tied up with the association of home which is where the imagery of the blackcurrant jam comes from.”
Mr Insch said: “It was the poignancy of the message that stood out for us, as well as the imagery and vivid colour, so we appreciated it on two different levels. It is quite a different painting to the others in the show in how it looks and it is different to anything that I have seen in the show in previous years.”
Emily Hill (23), from Ballymena, was awarded second prize of £250 for her painting ‘Cullybackey Sandpit’, inspired by childhood memories of growing up in Northern Ireland. It is the second occasion that she has been recognised as part of the awards, taking third prize in last year’s presentation.
Emily said: “The idea for the painting was to do with memories and how I wanted to try and create a space that tied in with the school. There were particular issues back home, where I grew up, with the Troubles, and I wanted to create a reworked space within a childhood memory which is based on my nursery school.
“Children grow up surrounded by all these symbols and the painting explores how those influence them.”
The judges were impressed by the layers of meaning within the painting, as well as being drawn in by Emily’s use of bold colours.
Mr Insch said: “The painting has a lot of depth to it. Every time we looked at it, we picked up on something different, a new detail that we hadn’t noticed before.”
Third prize of £150 went to 20-year-old Katie Watson whose painting ‘Plantation, New Growth’ was inspired by the Tullos Hill ‘Tree for Every Citizen’ scheme.
Katie said: “I just thought it was a brilliant idea and would like to draw more attention to the scheme through painting. Obviously it was quite controversial at the time, due to the fact that they had to cull a lot of deer to give the trees a chance to grow, so I have tried to capture both the positive side while acknowledging the more negative side of it as well.”
She added: “I think that painting should have some sort of social responsibility and I’ve grown up believing that we should leave the planet in a better place than we found it.”
Both judges were impressed by the sense of life and light that the painting projected, as well as the issue it tackled.
Part of the Petrofac group, SPD provide comprehensive well engineering, project management and expert consultancy and recruitment services to the global oil and gas industry.
Mr Insch added: “It never gets any easier to judge these awards and it is a very different show to last year. It is always lovely to see everything come together and to understand more about each painting.”
Keith Grant, Subject Leader in Painting at Gray’s School of Art, said: “It’s great to hear that the judges felt the show had a completely different feel from last year’s and that the prize winners were quite different to those they choose in 2013.
“It is a very strong and diverse show and I feel that any of the 13 paintings in the exhibition would have been worthy winners, so well done to all involved. We are very grateful to SPD for its continued support of the Annual Painting Awards.”
The SPD Painting Awards exhibition, featuring a range of work by second and third year students, will run at Gray’s School of Art until Friday, December 19.
Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology