Art students pick up prizes at exhibition launch

A talented trio of Art students at Robert Gordon University (RGU) has picked up prizes at the third annual SPD painting awards exhibition.

SPD awards NinaJudges selected the winning pieces at the opening night of the exhibition, which is currently on display at Gray’s School of Art until Friday, October 25 and features a range of work produced by second and third year Painting students at RGU.

The prizes, sponsored by SPD, aim to nurture local talent and bring art to the oil and gas community. SPD’s Regional Director for UK, Europe & Africa, Neil Robertson, Group HSEQ Manager, Stuart Insch and PA to the Managing Director, Laura Mylles, made up this year’s judging panel, each of whom was struck by the darker themes explored in various pieces in the show.

First place was awarded to Nina Goldsmith (22) from Eaglesham, near Glasgow, who picked up a cheque for £1250. Nina’s portrayal of the foreboding exterior of a house in the city’s West Princes Street, scene of a brutal crime at the turn of the twentieth century, caught the judges’ imagination.

Mr Robertson said: “It was the depth of the painting that stood out for each of us – not just the picture itself, but what it represented. For me, it really told a story, a story that was enhanced depending on where you positioned yourself to look at it.”

Nina said: “It’s very surreal to have won the prize, I’m so pleased. There are so many very talented artists at Gray’s and I’m just so surprised that my painting was chosen.”

Talking about her work, she explained: “The juxtaposition of an ordinary street against the trepidation of this house and the events that had taken place was something I wanted to highlight – to express that even in the most inconspicuous of settings there has been terrorisation and death crawling just beneath the surface.”

Second prize, of £750, went to Catherine Ross (22), from Westhill, whose striking painting of salt plains in Nevada met with immediate appreciation from the judges.

Catherine, who spent her early years in remote Canadian town Yellowmouth before returning to Scotland, said: “Although I don’t have any concrete memories of living there, I still feel a connection to that place. I’m obsessed with finding out more about it and my paintings are a way of exploring the bond that I feel to isolated, remote places.”

She added: “I can’t quite believe that I won one of the awards, I’m really, really pleased.”

SPD awards EmilyThird place went to 22-year-old Emily Hill, from Ireland, who was presented with a cheque for £500 for her painting showing a trench scene from the First World War littered with toy soldiers. The judging panel was impressed with Emily’s use of bright colours and broad brush strokes to depict such a poignant scene from one of the dark periods of European history.

She said: “The inspiration for the painting came from WW1 cigarette cards which told the stories of fallen soldiers who had been awarded the Victoria Cross medal. It was something that stayed with me, something that I found very interesting and it inspired me to work with the subject.

“I wasn’t expecting to win anything whatsoever, so this has been a big surprise. I’m just delighted.”

Gemma Travers (19) and Dominic McIvor (22) also received commendations for their work.

Mr Robertson said: “Without a doubt this has been the hardest year to judge, to the extent that we were struggling to choose the winners. Judging the work in this exhibition is always an enlightening experience and the amount of work and skill that goes into each and every one of these paintings is amazing.

“The range and diversity of the pieces on display is a credit to both students and staff and we are delighted to be able to encourage them and support Gray’s School of Art through this exhibition.”

Part of the Petrofac group, SPD Ltd offer specialist and flexible well engineering and management services, expert consultancy and recruitment to the global oil and gas industry.

Keith Grant, Subject Leader in Painting at Gray’s School of Art, said: “The exhibition is a great opportunity to showcase work from what can be the most formative and exploratory years for our students but which too often doesn’t get an opportunity to go on public display.

“We are thrilled that the students’ achievements have a platform in which they can be showcased and are very grateful to all at SPD for their support over the past three years. We look forward to future collaborations and a continued development of our cross industry relationship.”

The SPD Painting Awards Exhibition is on display at Gray’s School of Art until Friday, October 25. Opening times are: Mon – Thurs, 10am to 9pm; Fri – Sat, 10am to 5pm; Sun, 11am to 5pm.

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Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology