This is the sixth year of the prize being awarded to ECA students. It was founded by Mark Astaire, a University of Edinburgh Politics graduate and investment banking professional.
After a judging panel, including Mark and ECA staff, had a chance to look at and discuss all of the work, there was a lunch and prize-giving ceremony held in the Board Room in the ECA Main Building.
The winner was Brandon Logan, a Fine Art - MA student. The runners up were Gary Anderson (Painting - BA [Hons]), Fabianne Jones (Fine Art - MA), and Ben Maxwell (Fine Art - MA).
Brandon’s winning work, Floral system, is part of a larger body of work that he has produced using a technique that he has devised himself, composed of paint and string. The technique is similar to weaving, but instead of using the tension of a warp, Brandon uses paint to seal together the string.
"I work generally in processes that I have devised. I can control the rules to a certain extent, but the material dictates so much of what I can do, so there's a push and a pull to it," said Brandon.
"This painting was quite a struggle because it was the largest of this kind of work that I've produced, and it's not an easy medium to work in on a large scale. It's a laborious process and that's quite important to me," said Brandon, "I consider time a lot in my work. I come from Orkney, and quite a lot of my work is about Orkney, and the way that human history is woven into natural history and the landscape and physical geography of the place."
Mark spoke at the ceremony about the judging process and the motivation behind the prize.
"It was an enormous variety of work across a lot of disciplines. It showed again the quality and talent of the students at Edinburgh College of Art," said Mark, "It wasn't easy to pick a winner, but Brandon's work was beautiful, he was using references from his background in Orkney, and it was beautifully executed."
Mark hopes that the prize will continue support students to produce their work. "The main driver behind the prize is to try and give a bit if encouragement at a key part of their artistic careers, to feel good about their work and to feel that they can prosper and be successful as artists," said Mark, "You need to be brave to be an artist, and if this helps them to be a little bit braver, then it's been a success."
Brandon was delighted to be selected as the winner: "It's amazing. Quite unexpected. I didn't really allow myself to entertain the idea - it was just really nice to be shortlisted," said Brandon, "initially it will make it possible for me to make work, since it's monetary prize. Going into my Degree Show, I'm so grateful for that. Beyond that, it's a boost and an encouragement that you can enter these things and that it can actually happen."
Over the coming weeks, Brandon will continue to work on his string paintings in preparation for the ECA Degree Show, which is taking place 1 - 9 June 2019.