Grant Holden won The John Byrne Award 2020 First Quarter, receiving £500 for his stop-motion clay animation ‘Cleaning in progress’.  

Grant graduated from our BA (Hons) Animation programme in 2018.

The John Byrne Award is an online exhibition and art competition exploring personal and societal values. The competition is open to anybody, over the age of 16, living or studying in Scotland. It awards £7500 annually and £500 quarterly to work which encourages the questioning of values appropriate to our modern age.

Grant’s clay animation, ‘Cleaning in Progress’, created for his graduate film in 2018, explores a naïve young cleaner sweeping the floor of a car park with his old-timer talking brush. Tensions arise in their differences of approach and attitude where ultimately, one cannot do their job without the other.

The award’s May judging panel were hugely impressed, moved and entertained by Grant’s entry ‘Who would clean a car park?’ describing it as, ‘outstanding, both in terms of the insight it offers and the technical execution.’

Still image from film showing clay animation of a cleaner in a high-vis jacket holding a brush sweeping the floor of a carpark
Image: Grant Holden
Still from Grant's winning film 'Cleaning in Progress'

"Beautifully delivered, this gentle and poignant work opens space to talk about the relationship between workers and society. The animation is enjoyable, charming and gripping."

The John Bryne Award May judging panel

Grant was inspired for the animation after reading how cleaners are ‘the first to be blamed and the last to be thanked’ in an Equality and Human Rights Commission report on the cleaning sector. He said, ‘That really stuck with me: what would it mean to carry out a job that society relies upon yet never fully appreciates?’

Grant adds, ‘I heard a local cleaner describe how people would look straight through her. The scale of a stop-motion puppet situated within the vastness of a real-life car park seemed an appropriate visual metaphor to reflect this state of being overlooked.

This film is for the workforce of cleaners who, despite their hi-vis jackets, so often go unseen.’

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