John Kinross Scholar in 2017
Culloden Robertson, Allesandro, oil on canvas, 2018
How did the experience affect you as an individual?
At the time of my application I was stretching myself between working life and a medical visualisation masters, leaving very little opportunity to create artwork for art’s sake. The scholarship gave me the time and “permission” to focus on my art practice in a way that I hadn’t in many years. The affirmation of the award helped me to continue pushing my work onwards, even after the scholarship ended, and to reconnect my identity to that of an artist. On a personal level the experience of staying abroad and travelling alone for the first time allowed me to grow my confidence in my own independence and ability to connect with like-minded creatives.
What was the impact on your practice?
As a portrait painter with a focus on traditional techniques and ornamentation it was an invaluable experience to study so many inspirational masterpieces that I had only ever seen photos of before. It was especially informative to see in person the small decorative details in frescos and frames which are often deemed by others as superfluous decorations and therefore rarely documented clearly in art books. I devoured the endless museums, galleries and public artworks of Florence, constantly making sketches and research notes to take back with me for use in my own work.
The local warmth and positivity towards traditional artistic study was refreshing and encouraged me to explore the aesthetic direction that my artwork was developing. My time at the Florence Academy of Arts and my visits to the city’s many life drawing workshops and local artist studios allowed me to experience a world of traditional arts teaching I had never previously encountered. Meeting so many classically skilled oil painters from all over the world that had come to study in one place really helped to expand my horizons as to where I can push my own painting abilities, but also unexpectedly reaffirmed my interest in mixing modern media and digital techniques in my work.
What would you say the long term impact has been on yourself and you work?
My experience focusing on art in Florence really demonstrated the importance of reserving space and time for freely experimenting and creating and I continue to keep this in mind today. The research notes that I made there are still informing new work, and I’m sure the bright sights of Florence’s treasures will continue to inspire me for many years.
I have visited Florence again since the scholarship and hope to continue to do so, continuing the personal connections with artists that I met there as well as my relationship with the beautiful city itself.
Additionally I returned to Glasgow with a stronger appreciation for its DIY attitude towards organising art events and exhibitions, and I have become more proactive in connecting and collaborating with local artists since. Having the opportunity to explore a new art community outside of the UK has sharpened my curiosity to see how art practices differ in other cities around the world.