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Mixing business with ‘artistic’ pleasure: £2500 awarded to nurture talent


A trio of Aberdeen students has been awarded a prestigious new industry prize that aims to nurture local talent and bring art to the oil and gas community.

SPD Ltd Painting AwardsAn exhibition of work by Painting students from Robert Gordon University’s Gray’s School of Art exploring a range of themes from natural disasters, fashion and the Aberdeen public, was recently staged at the new Golden Square offices of specialist well engineering company, SPD Ltd. Cash awards, donated by SPD, have been presented to help further the students’ artistic studies.

Fourth-year painting student, Katarina Chomova (27) from Holburn Street was awarded first prize of £1250 for her painting that explores memories of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.

By layering bright, hallucinogenic or ‘happy’ colours over dark surfaces, Katarina reflects the memories and suffering of the disaster victims.

“Our memories are stored away in our minds and through time resurface in a changed form,” Katarina explains. “By layering colours and incorporating dream-like compositions, I hoped to reflect how governments try to cover-up disasters and to encourage people to always seek to uncover the truth.”

Inspired by the recent Japanese Fukushima nuclear incident, Katarina, who grew up in the Czech Republic, has focused on the collective and personal memories connected to certain objects and places.

She continues: “The Ukrainian people have had a similar past to Czechs, being manipulated by their governments and the media by the controlled release of information. The consequences of Chernobyl were overlooked and mistakes by governments are still being repeated in the present day.”

Fellow artist and third-year painting student, Sharon Bonnar (47) from Golden Square, was awarded second prize of £750 for her work which captures social interaction in public places around Scottish cities.

By deconstructing photographic images taken of the public and recreating scenes using collage, oil paint and varnish, Sharon’s series, entitled ‘Sketchers Bench’ depicts scenes recorded from a bench in Edinburgh Princes Street gardens which was donated by the Sketching Club of Edinburgh. This work explores the subject of public surveillance and voyeurism. The individuals featured in the paintings are unaware they have been captured adding to an elusive atmosphere.

Commenting on her prize, Sharon said: “I’m absolutely delighted to win the award and to have my work exhibited to a wider audience in Aberdeen. My inspiration came from observations on how people from all walks of life interact with each other in the street, in shops or on public transport.”

Third place was awarded to painting student Sophie Radcliffe (21) from Milltimber, for her piece entitled ‘Deep Impact’, which celebrates her fascination with fashion from working in retail store Cruise on Union Street.

She adds: “It is very encouraging to win an award in the final-year of my studies and has given me a real confidence boost to know people outside the artistic community also appreciate my work.”

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.

Managing Director, Alex Macdonald, comments: “Over the last five years, the directors and personnel of SPD have worked hard at establishing the company in the city. We felt that it was time to offer our time, energy and resources to give something back to the local community by providing support for emerging artistic talent.

“The exhibition and awards not only benefit the students but also brings local artistic output to the attention of our clients and business partners and encourages them to engage with representatives of the city’s creative community.”

Keith Grant, Subject Leader in Painting at Gray’s School of Art adds:

“The awards have provided the winning students’ with vital extra resource to further explore their areas of expertise and has also given them the opportunity to display their work to a wider audience which offers a taster of life as a practising artist.”

The SPD Ltd Awards were presented at the launch of the exhibition which co-incided with the opening of the company’s new premises at 20 Golden Square in December.

The company also purchased a piece of work from the exhibition by second-year painting student Jonathan Whitson (20) from Forres, which will be hung in the company boardroom.

Issued by:
Sarah Grieve
Communications Officer
Robert Gordon University
Schoolhill
Aberdeen
AB10 1FR
Tel: 01224 262206
Email: s.j.grieve@rgu.ac.uk