National Galleries' competition draws in schools from all over Scotland OVER THE past four years almost 10,000 pupils have been involved in the National Galleries of Scotland art competition. This year, more than 2,600 entries have flooded in.
The competition is well thought out and backed up with online resources, fulfilling the NGS's outreach commitments. Teachers and pupils access it online, where they are invited to create themed artworks in age-group categories.
For each of the five themes, there are suggested questions to stimulate discussion and three artworks chosen from the galleries to provide inspiration. Since last year, the entire collection has been accessible online for schools.
Linda McClelland, the NGS's education officer, aims to offer as much material as possible to help teachers. She is delighted that one school, Dollar Academy in Clackmannanshire, wanted to use the themes and stimulus materials in its coursework.
Thanks to sponsorship from Scottish Widows, every school in Scotland will receive a calendar and postcard selection of the 53 winning entries now on show in the IT gallery at the National Gallery complex in Edinburgh.
This location, too, is encouraging, as it is in the main area rather than the education section.
"We are up there with Warhol," enthused Ms McClelland. "It will be exciting for the children to see their work hung in this main area."
The judges were looking for creativity and originality, confident handling of materials, boldness and impact. Not surprisingly, many of the exhibited works came from schools with an art specialist.
Maureen Moonie, who teaches at four Midlothian primaries, produced three winners in the Amazing Hats and Headwear category.
She said: "There was so much scope for really imaginative work, it just took off - and the pupils got so much out of it. The parents are just as delighted. They really do care about these things.
"Anything that gets children into the galleries has to be good."
The winning entry (A), by Brandon O'Connor, of Woodburn Primary in Midlothian, is a dramatic portrait drawn with bold black lines on to collage, with an amazing hat of abundant foliage.
Also in this category is a beautifully poetic pastel of a man with glossy beard wearing a feathered headdress, by Zahra Butt, of St Bride's Primary in Glasgow.
Sheileagh Luyken is the art teacher for five primary schools in Sutherland.
Because she cannot easily take her pupils to galleries, she was very positive about participating. Kenneth McLeod, one of her Lochinver Primary pupils, won a prize in the Work category with his beautiful painting of a fishing boat hauling in the catch.
Other winners in this section are Louis Stewart, of Dollar Academy, with a strongly composed pastel drawing of a surgeon rummaging in a patient's chest (D), and Kathryn Park, of Sanquhar Primary in Dumfries and Galloway, with a joyful painting of a male nurse holding up a smiling newborn.
Entries in this section also show a magician, a skater, a game warden, a singer and, from Hanni Shinton, of the Rudolf Steiner School in Edinburgh, a pair of actors on a magical Shakespearean stage. As Ms McClelland said:
"They obviously don't want to do dull things. There is no one stuck behind a computer."
The S1S2 entries were stronger this year, with good use made of the selected artists - Magritte, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Kurt Schwitters - as inspiration for the Image and Text theme. Rebecca Walker, of Dollar Academy, won with an excellent, dynamically constructed collage (E).
Jonathan Mears (C), of the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh, and Christine Lennon (B), of Stanecastle School in Irvine, produced outstanding work in the special education schools' section on Wheels, Cogs and Cranks.
And the new Group category had exciting large-scale work from Roseburn Primary, Edinburgh, and St Matthew's, Bishopbriggs.
The nursery section, In The Woods, is full of delight and invention. Ruby Anderson, of Roseburn Primary in Edinburgh, won with her magical collage of a creature among trees (F).
The show runs until October 17.