Extract taken from the Sunday Times, written by Frank Whitford. Full transcription can be found here;
Of course you should go and buy the Sunday times as it has all the prize winners in full colour.
In its 20th year, the contest has put on new clothes. It’s now called the Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander/Sunday Times watercolour competition, incorporating the name of the Icelandic bank that is now in charge.
Nothing else has changed, apart from the name of one of the judges. This year, they were: Professor Brian Allen, director of studies at the Paul Mellon Centre (chairman); Sir Peter Blake, artist; Carol Robertson, artist and former prizewinner; Dr Joanna Selborne, curator of prints and drawings at the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery; and Frank Whitford of The Sunday Times.
The award presentation will take place on Tuesday, September 11, with the broadcaster Mariella Frostrup as the guest of honour.
Second prize, £7,000
Angus McEwan, Permanently Temporary
When I mentioned to Angus McEwan, a Scot who lives near Dundee, that his painting had several of the qualities associated with an abstract composition, he immediately agreed. “I’d go further,” he added. “I think there’s an abstract core to every good painting.” Yet McEwan’s picture is also an exercise in almost photographically sharp realism. The surface and texture of every part of this ramshackle structure of wood and metal and mesh is rendered with a persistence and an attention to detail that make every part of it seem solid and tangible.
“I like painting wood and rough surfaces,” McEwan says, “and I loved the colours and haphazard arrangements of the materials here. The structure is actually in Marrakesh, right in the heart of the tannery. The gut-wrenching smell alone would make you run a mile, but someone has found a patch of dirt in which to take up residence. So this is part of a dwelling, just thrown up without any thought about permanence or the way it looks. Yet the arbitrary nature and placement of the boards, corrugated iron and doors has created a harmony and aesthetic all of its own. There’s a beauty that’s purely accidental, and it’s that beauty I wanted to preserve, clearly distinguishing between the texture of each of the different surfaces to preserve the identity of each part.”
The painting wasn’t made on the spot in Morocco, but in the studio, with the help of sketchbook drawings. McEwan also surrounded himself with similar materials. “The trick is to work in the studio while preserving a sense of that freshness that made the subject seem exciting in the first place,” he says. He likes to experiment, using resists above all.
McEwan is a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour and teaches at Dundee College. He has submitted work to the competition for the past two years, and last year his entry was in the exhibition. He learnt that he had won a prize (though not which one: this report is the first news of it) while in California, by looking at the competition website. Though he was on holiday in LA, he was also doing preparatory work for a show at Edinburgh’s Open Eye gallery next year.
Angus McEwan RSW
To say I am chuffed to bits is an understatement. I had convinced myself that it would be a 3rd prize, so I was genuinely delighted to find out otherwise. Now to look forward to the opening on the 11th & 13th of September 2007.