Recent Graduate Receives Guthrie Award

A recent graduate of Gray’s School of Art has won a prize at a prestigious exhibition for a painting inspired by the autumnal forests of Deeside.

Julie-Ann SimpsonAberdeen-based painter Julie-Ann Simpson (22), who graduated last year, was presented with the Guthrie Award by the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) in Edinburgh as part of its Open Exhibition.

The award, of a medal and £750, is presented for an outstanding painting by a Scottish artist under 35, with Julie-Ann’s work being selected from hundreds of exhibition pieces.

She said: “My work takes influence from lots of sources, particularly nature, with my exhibition piece ‘Among Silver Birches’ inspired by the autumnal forests of Deeside.

“I create abstract images which are ambiguous and suggestive; they could be ephemeral details of the landscape or broad panoramic views. I catalogue shape, texture and colour from nature and try to reassemble them on canvas – recreating a sensual experience.

“When I went to the opening night of the RSA exhibition I had no clue my painting had been sold or won an award, so it was a wonderful surprise. The industry is so competitive and subjective that you just have to keep trying everything you can. I gave it a chance and it paid off, so I am very pleased.”

Julie-Ann, who has been working part-time to fund her painting since graduating and is planning some new exhibitions in the new year, added: “It has been quite challenging to try and find a job that fits my skill set as an artist in Aberdeen, but I am keen to stay within the city for the next couple of years – I think there is huge potential for cultural and creative development in the north east.

Among Silver Birches by Julie-Ann Simpson“I have also been involved with Grampian Hospital Arts Trust, which has just recently opened a beautiful, dedicated art gallery within Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) – the first of its kind in the UK.  I think it is a very important and innovative project and I am very keen to continue supporting it in the future.”

This year’s RSA award selection committee comprised Professor Lennox Dunbar RSA; Arthur Watson PRSA, founder of Peacock Visual Arts; Dr Fiona Dean RSA and Professor Gareth Fisher RSA.

Drawing from artists across the whole of Scotland and beyond, the RSA Open Exhibition showcases a wide range of small and medium sized works selected through open submission and includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints and photographs. It runs until Tuesday,

For more information on Julie-Ann’s work, visit her Facebook, Tumblr or Twitter pages.

Release by
Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology

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