The Scottish Portrait Awards 2019: Who are the Winners for Fine Art and Photography?

The announcement of the Shortlists for the Scottish Portrait Awards for both Fine Art and the Richard Coward Photography Awards took place two weeks ago, (see previous article, The Scottish Portrait Awards, Every Face Tells a Story).

After careful deliberation by the Judges, there was a most inspiring reception at the Scottish Arts Club on 13th November to announce all the winners.

Michael Youds works at the Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh, assisting visitors to experience the world class collection of Scottish and International art.  On his days off, Michael is an artist himself, mostly portraits and still life, which has now paid off handsomely.  His Fine Art portrait, I was Blue, He was Red was selected for the overall winner receiving the £5,000 Scottish Portrait Award.

Michael Youds (in blue) and his brother David in front of their double portrait

The portrait features Michael and his twin brother David inspired by a photograph taken as babies, when their parents dressed them in red or blue to tell them apart. It is also a charming homage to David Hockney who is renowned for his large scale double portraits.

In “I was Blue, he was Red”, they wear the correct colour of T shirts with David browsing through a book of Hockney paintings and Michael holds the childhood photograph which was the inspirational starting point for this nostalgic double portrait.

Saul Robertson’s portrait of his two charming daughters, Us into Others, Others into Us, came runner up with a prize of £1,000 – which he describes as “an honest representation .. as a way of expressing my love for them”.

Us Into Others, Others Into Us, Saul Robertson

Li Huang came in third place (£500) for his portrait of his mother, Kinship,  depicting a proud but emotional expression as she recollects memories his late father.

Mark Roscoe was given a Commendation for his Self Portrait 2019, which is certainly an uncanny likeness in his striped Breton T shirt with a nod to Picasso.  His 7 year old daughter and his five year old son take a creative interest in his work as astute critics.!

Double Take – Mark Roscoe in real life beside his Self Portrait 2019

There were also awards for Young Fine Artist of the year, (16 – 25 years old), presented to Robin Page for her portrait Land of White Mist, receiving a cheque for £500.  The sitter is her partner, lying in bed to relax and escape from his tiring work as a carer.

Robin Gage beside her Fine Art Portrait, Land of White Mist

Grace Payne-Kumar won a Commendation for her Portrait of Niccolo, who is a life model in Florence, composed in the style of a traditional Old Master.

The Scottish Portrait Awards also present the Richard Coward Photography Awards, in memory of the extraordinary life and work of the late photographer, renowned for iconic, black and white fashion shots and also for prints, abstract painting, etching and film-making.

A black and white portrait of Govanhill resident Alan Tanner by Simon Murphy was selected to receive the £3,000 Richard Coward Scottish Portrait Award in Photography.

Simon Murphy beside his photograph of Alan Tanner

Simon began photographing Govanhill when he lived there in the early 2000s and met Alan Tanner in Milk, a social café in Govanhill that supports refugee and migrant women.  Tanner told stories of his time in London in the 60’s and 70’s, when he lived near Jimi Hendrix, and designed album covers for Hawkwind and Procol Harem.

For the photograph, “Alan raised a cigarette to his mouth – I asked him to look directly into the lens and I clicked the shutter.   .. a gritty realist style…to reflect the harsh experiences that face so many Govanhill residents.’

The 2nd Prize of £500 was awarded to Jo Tennant for her atmospheric image The Eve of Women’s Day, an exhilarating snapshot of Jenny snapped on a winter’s day, the eve of International Women’s Day as she braves the elements and ice cold sea with a lovely grinning smile.  Jo was also in the water but wearing a wet suit not a swimming costume and comments that “This portrait of Jenny in the sea speaks of daring, joy, belonging.”

Jo Tennant with her photograph of Jenny in Eve of Women’s Day


The 3rd Prize of £100 went to Ruby Rose O’Neill for her silhouette mise-en-abyme image of the artist Derrick Guild, a reflection through glass, which links through to her work as a filmmaker.

A Commendation prize was also presented to John Post for his moody, shadowy photograph of Lou Moon, a drag artist, snapped off stage in a dressing room, painting her lips as part of her identity and character transformation.

Lou Moon, by John Post

The SPA Young Photographer Award is presented to artists aged 16 – 25. Brenna Collie (now aged 17), is the winner this year for her self-portrait, Trapped,  receiving a prize of £500.  When she was just 14, she suffered a stroke and the image portrays the doctors shining torches in her eyes, when she felt trapped in her own body and mind ..”but it is hopeful as it captures the start of my recovery.’

Brenna Collie beside her self potrait, Trapped – SPA Young Photographer award 2019

A Commendation for the Young Photographer was awarded to Mark Shields for his portrait Late News Final illustrating one of the last remaining news vendors still working in central Glasgow, as the newspaper industry slowly moves from print to the internet.

Mark Shields beside his photograph of the vendor, Late News Final

The SPA exhibition of sixty portraits across Fine Art and Photography –featuring the twelve shortlisted works with all the winners now revealed – is now on show:

Scottish Arts Club, 24 Rutland Square, Edinburgh EH1 2BW. 

Dates: 2-30 November 2019,  Monday to Saturday, 2 – 5pm.

SPA on tour:  Glasgow Art Club from 16 January to 15 February 2020 and the Kirkcudbright Galleries from 14 March to 24 May 2020.

The SPA will welcome entries for next year’s competition from 2nd April until 30th June 2020.

Credit: Photographs of the winning artists beside the potraits by George McBean

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About vivdevlin

I am an international travel writer, specialising in luxury travel, hotels, restaurants, city guides, cruises, islands, train and literary-inspired journeys. I review dance and theatre, Arts Festivals and love the visual arts. I have just experienced an epic voyage, circumnavigating the globe, following in the wake of Captain Cook, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson.

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