Borders painter on £25,000 art prize shortlist

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A STOW artist is in the running for a £25,000 Scottish landscape painting award.

David Cass is the youngest on a seven-artist shortlist for the Jolomo Bank of Scotland award after the judges were impressed by his method of painting on wooden objects.

David, 22, explained: “I always loved collected objects from antique shops and junk yards and used them to construct wall-based sculptures.

“However, these found objects have gradually developed a new purpose and are now the surfaces on which I paint.”

David began his career in art at Galashiels Academy and was accepted to Edinburgh’s College of Art, from where he graduated last year with a first class honours degree in drawing and painting.

He spent three months in Florence, Italy, after securing a scholarship from the Royal Scottish Academy, and has since visited Brussels and Paris as part of his art education.

Having displayed his work in Florence, a place David describes as “amazing and very inspiring”, he will take part in a Royal Scottish Academy scholars’ show in London this month.

The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh will present David’s work in September, in an exhibition expected to be based on his European travels.

And as part of making the shortlist, the Borders artist, who is also a sculptor, will contribute towards a Jolomo finalists’ show in the Bank of Scotland building on The Mound in Edinburgh at the end of May.

On his chances of scooping the £25,000 first prize, David said: “I don’t want to think about winning the prize money. It would give me such a boost.

“Nobody else works on the same format as me so I am hoping that will make a difference.”

The awards were established in 2006 by John Lowrie Morrison, better known as Jolomo, to promote the painting of Scottish landscapes.

Born in Glasgow and trained at the city’s school of art, he worked in education for 25 years, taking up full-time painting in 1997.

In the 2011 New Year Honours, the Argyll-based painter received an OBE for services to art and to charity in Scotland.

John said: “This year’s applicants for the landscape awards were of a very high standard, which made it very difficult to judge.

“However, the panel chose seven wonderful painters whose work shows that landscape painting is alive and well in Scotland, and we can’t wait to see the shortlisted group of seven and see their work in the flesh.”

He added: “I am delighted that just over half the shortlisted candidates are women, the strength and depth of all our shortlisted artists shows that Scottish landscape painting is still thriving in Scotland.”

In 2009, the four winners were all male from a shortlist of five men and two women.

And two years previously, the four winners were all women from a shortlist of five women and four men.

The winner of the 2009 competition, Keith Salmon, said: “Winning the award has made a real difference.

“It gave me the confidence and security to really focus on my painting – a rare opportunity for any painter at the start of their career.”

The other candidates are Susie Lee, 45, of Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh-based artists Allan Robertson, 56, Jenny Mason, 46, Beth Robertson Fiddes, 38, and Calum McClure, 24, as well as Glasgow’s Katie Pope, 26.

Susan Rice, managing director of Lloyds Banking Group Scotland, said: “We have had a fantastic level of entries once more, which is a commendation of the awards itself.”