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The Edinburgh Collection Purchase Prize 2016

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

It was a couple days before the Degree Show, and I was living my best life. I’d received my results, I was graduating with First Class Honours from University, and the sun was shining, and everyone who’s been to Edinburgh knows that when the sun shines in Edinburgh, nothing quite beats it.

However, on the way to meet my friends in the Meadows, a phone call i received did beat it...

I still remember I was crossing the street from Bruntsfield onto that big open expanse of green, joining the masses as it seemed the world and their dog were out enjoying the warm weather, when my music was rudely interrupted by an unknown caller.

I don’t usually answer unknown callers, a bad habit I had got into, but for some reason I picked up, maybe it was the good mood I was in... bring on the cold caller! But this was no cold caller.

To those around me I must have looked insane. Suddenly stopping dead. Looking dumb, a mouth forming words that weren’t blessed with any sound. Then a ‘yes’ stumbled out and I think an ‘Oh my god yes’ also stumbled out.

On the other end of the line was a member of staff from the Edinburgh Art Collection. They had looked around the Degree Show’s prior to it’s opening and wanted to buy my work Steady Hands.

Steady Hands was my favourite painting that I’d submitted to the Degree Show. It is also to this day one of my favourite paintings. I feel it manages to capture the teamwork and technique crucial to surgery. It is also soft, whilst harsh. I wanted my intense use of chiaroscuro to almost disembody the hands of the practitioners, nothing matters beyond the frame, it is a moment of pure intense concentration. But those in the light are almost blanched, it is soft. This combination of dark and light, the sharpness of the instruments and the black with the softness of the patient and the hands, captivates something of what surgery is. Brutal yet beautiful.

Now my favourite painting lives in my favourite city.

I couldn’t have asked for more.

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