Student life-drawing award remembers artist and friend

A painting student has been honoured with an award established to remember local artist Jen Beattie, who passed away in 2009 during her studies at Robert Gordon University’s Gray’s School of Art.

Jen Beattie AwardSet-up by lifelong friend, Lindsay Stewart, the Jen Beattie Memorial Award aims to recognise an outstanding piece of work by a second or third-year fine art student at Gray’s in life drawing – a favourite activity of Jen’s.

Jen, a mother-of-four from Inverurie, had previously worked as a special needs teacher at Kemnay Academy and had returned to study for a BA (Hons) in Painting at Gray’s. Sadly, in her third-year of study, she passed away shortly after her 63rd birthday in September 2009 following unexpected complications during surgery.

Lindsay, a psychologist based in Newcastle for over 20 years who returned to live in Tarland in the 1990s, met Jen at the tender age of 7 at Brownies and had continued their friendship despite attending different schools and living in separate parts of the UK. After returning to the North-east and developing an interest in painting, the pair attended evening classes together before they were both accepted to Gray’s.

Lindsay explains: “I wanted to create an award that would not only celebrate Jen’s love of life drawing but would also encourage fellow student artists to explore this area. I also wanted to acknowledge the value Gray’s places on the core practice of drawing.

“Despite suffering from ill health for a number of years, Jen showed amazing stamina and perseverance in continuing her studies, often being in pain. Drawing and painting were very important to Jen and I think that she wanted to get the most out of life and from her work.”

This year’s recipient of the £250 prize is third-year Painting student, Tomasz Wrobel (28), originally from Poland and now living in Seaton. His large-scale life drawing in black and white utilises subtle shadowing techniques to create form and texture.

Tomasz said: “Life drawing is an essential skill and highlights good practice as an artist. In my piece, I covered smooth paper with black paint then, using cloths soaked in white spirit, gently removed layers to create an atmospheric image.

“I’m very surprised to have won the award as there were so many great pieces put forward. It’s such a positive boost which has really encouraged me to develop my work more and given me extra resource to purchase specialist art materials.”

Keith Grant, Subject Leader in Painting at Gray’s, adds: “The high standard of work on show reflects the quality of Fine Art students at Gray’s.

“Awards such as these not only give students the opportunity to have their work hung in the context of a real exhibition, but also means that they can critically asses their own work and that of their peers – a key attribute in contemporary art practice.”


Issued by:

Sarah Grieve

Communications Officer

Robert Gordon University



AB10 1FR

Tel: 01224 262206