Updated: Apr 20, 2020
On 1st April 2016, I found myself in the sculpture court of Edinburgh College of Art’s (ECA) main building setting up my diptych ‘before and after the performance’ in preparation for the Astaire Art Prize exhibition. I was fortunate to have been one of 18 shortlisted from an original list of 68 ECA 3rd and 4th year students, and just getting the chance to exhibit was hugely exciting.
It was the third year of the prize, which was founded by Mark Astaire, a University of Edinburgh Politics graduate and investment banking professional, who invests a lot of time and money into promoting emerging artists.
After a judging panel, including Mark and ECA staff, had a chance to look at and discuss all of the work, there was a lunch and prize-giving ceremony. My stomach churning, I regretted taking advantage of the free food, as we sat listening to Mark discuss the works exhibited. I had not expected much, but there is always a level of anticipation and hope!
And… Amazingly… I got runner up!
My work, ‘before and after the performance’ had impressed Mark and the judges with it’s technical ability and the small alterations of the before and after of the surgical theatre that make you question what came between. The small scale of the paintings, only being roughly A4, was a challenge to paint with all the minute details, but well-worth the time and effort in creating two mini-realities.
Coming runner up was a massive confidence booster, and possibly the best thing that could have happened to me at that point as only a month later I would be setting up for the Degree show, and lord knows you need all the confidence in the world to set that up and walk away content!