Winners of The Four Pillar Awards at Gray's School of Art Degree Show 2024
Image by: Martin Parker, The Gatehouse Design Agency

Celebrating talent at Gray's Degree Show 2024

By Jenny Frost - 12 June 2024

Gray's Degree Show showcases the talent of our final year students and celebrates their achievements as they embark on new journeys. At this year's celebrations, students across a range of disciplines including Painting, Contemporary Art Practice, Fashion and Textiles, Communication Design, Three Dimensional Design and Photography, celebrated with many winning awards.

These included Gray's Four Pillar Awards which reflect the four pillars which guide Gray's School of Art's practice and curriculum. The awards centre around graduates who are socially engaged creatives, collaborative creatives, critically creative and enterprising creatives.

Four Pillars Enterprising Award winner, Lisa Ross from Contemporary Art Practice, has produced a project focused on the Scold's Bridle, also known as 'Branks',  that was used as a form of punishment for women between the 1600s to 1800s, mostly to silence and humiliate women.

Lisa explains more: "Husbands used the Scold's Bridle on wives who voiced their opinions too much. Gossiping women. The church would use them on anyone who spoke ill of the church. It would be used on women deemed as witches. These torture devices would be made from heavy iron and often have a bar or spike that would sit in the mouth when worn. Forcing the wearer to be silent. At times they would be paraded around their area, making sure everyone knew they were being punished.

"Women today might have more freedom and less chances of wearing a Scold’s Bridle; however, they are still being controlled and silenced. Being told they are too loud, too much of a problem, they should calm down or use their indoor voice. All because they might raise their voice a little or a lot. Because they want to shout about their passions or point of view. They are controlled by fear and violence. They are controlled by overbearing partners, colleagues, family and governments. It is shameful behaviour that is no longer acceptable yet continues.

"The version of bridles that I have created as part of my degree show project are for today’s woman. They wear their bridle with pride. And look fabulous, oozing an air of confidence. Women will not be silenced anymore. They wear their bridle to shame the one who dared to control them.

"I'm absolutely delighted to have won Gray's Four Pillars Enterprising Award. It’s about recognition, it’s a big deal. I’ve got three kids and they’re all very excited too. I was away for a long time being a mum. When my youngest started primary school, I was like ‘what do I do?’ It was always my dream to come to Gray's as a teenager. From the first time I visited, I knew it was the place I always wanted to be. It changed my world completely. I’d do it all again tomorrow. I’d do another four years."


Bethany Reid from Contemporary Art Practice won Gray's Four Pillars Socially & Environmentally Engaged Creative Award. Her degree project centres around a four-wall installation and displays a series of textile pig sculptures, depicting both carcasses and live specimens. The fourth wall serves as an interactive space for engagement, education and invites viewers to immerse themselves in her research and explore the resources she has curated.

Bethany hopes to unravel the stark contrast between a child's and an adult's understanding of the meat industry. She is particularly interested in how children oscillate between innocence and awareness, in contrast to the brutal truths grasped by adults. Her passion for animal welfare is a driving force throughout her work, allowing her to offer a poignant reflection on the complex dynamics of the human-animal relationship in contemporary society. To ensure the success of her project, Bethany undertook extensive research, visiting museums and galleries, and studying both modern and historical texts/media.

Bethany said: "I feel incredibly honoured to have received the ‘Socially and Environmentally Engaged Award’ here at Gray’s School of Art. This year’s fourth-year cohort across different courses has shown immense dedication and perseverance throughout our time at Gray’s, I feel very lucky to have been selected within this group. My degree show work is intended to provoke thought and inspire action among the audience. By addressing challenges surrounding animal consumption, I aim to create a dialogue that encourages reflection and change.

"The ultimate aspiration for my work is to ignite curiosity in my viewers, compelling them to reflect on their own ethical standings and engage actively with issues of animal welfare. My goal is to evoke a sense of empathy and awareness regarding our relationship with animals.

"From when I first joined Gray’s, we were consistently reminded of the importance of keeping our audience in mind throughout the creative process. My goal for this show is to educate viewers and leave them with a sense of entertainment and newfound knowledge."


Four Pillars Collaborative Creative Award Winners Elizabeth Homewood and Liam Green from Communication Design created a project 'Beyond the Grey' that celebrates the creative talent of smaller artists and the cultural scene. 

Liam explains more: "After a trip to Manchester, we were amazed by the level of promotion that the creative scene gathered there. Inspired, we set out to create a platform that would promote the lesser-known culture within Aberdeen city - at no cost to the consumer. This resulted in our website and a seasonal newspaper called 'Beyond the Grey' distributed in cafes and event spaces across the city.

"In our time leading the project we were able to take part in a variety of excellent opportunities that included invites to events such as Nuart or Sabotage, as well as interviews with local creatives such as Skeps, Hitlist, or Mark Kemp from FortyTwo Studio. We've since passed the baton to a new team who will make their own mark on the city, and continue the project's legacy.To sum up our time:2 Struggling Students, 4 Issues, 30 Locations, 45 Articles, 90 Events, 700 Copies, 1200 Followers, 1800+ Readers, Nae Bad!"

Elizabeth Homewood, added: "We spent the year going round creative talent, smaller voices and getting them to share their stories. We wanted to expand the promotion for smaller artists and cultural scene. It’s been so motivational to win the award as we move forward into the creative industry. It’s a big payoff for a long year, It’s been a lot of work and it’s nice to be recognised."


Winner of the Four Pillars Critically Creative Gray's School of Art Award, Bronwyn MacKenzie, explores the extraordinary experience of natural phenomena, using scientific processes and fine art methodologies, to traverse these natural occurrences with an enquiring mind.

Bronwyn said: "I am so pleased and overwhelmed to have been honoured with the prestigious Four pillars Critically Creative Gray’s School of Art Award. Winning this award is truly unexpected and a great achievement for me. It has instilled a newfound confidence in my future artistic endeavours. Additionally, I am thrilled that I have been selected for the RSA New Contemporaries, an opportunity that I am eagerly looking forward to over the coming months.  Furthermore, I am grateful to have also been awarded the Robert Brough Memorial Scholarship, and excited to see where these opportunities will lead my practice. It has been heartening to witness the positive reception of my work in the recent days, with visitors to the Gray’s Degree Show expressing their enjoyment of experiencing my work.

"My contextual inspiration for the work stems from a deep-seated curiosity about natural processes and intelligence, driving me to create work that allows us to better understand and appreciate the world around us. Through my work I am to explore the concept of plant sentience and reveal the invisible languages of nature. Offering viewers, a glimpse into the intricate and interconnected web of life that surrounds us."


Images all credited to Martin Parker, Gatehouse Design Agency.

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