Friday, 14 November 2014

The John Byrne Award

Now in its fifth year, The John Byrne Award invites sixth year students from across Edinburgh to express their values by producing any creative piece of work in response to a given stimulus. This year, students from 26 schools took up the challenge.

The competition presents students with a stimulus that relates to a world idea or movement. This year, the stimulus is comprised of a report from Oxfam, and a report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: the former discusses the implications of rising global inequality; the later debunks three myths that they claim block progress for the global poor.

This year the judges include Alex Wallace, former Headteacher at James Gillespie’s High School; Richard Holloway, writer and broadcaster; Florence Ingleby, Director at Ingleby Gallery; Hamish Matheson, senior geologist at Cairn Energy, Stuart Ferguson, non-executive director for a number of engineering companies around the world and Michelangelo Mulholland, 2013 JBA winner.

The 2014 award ceremony will take place on Saturday 22 November in The Sculpture Court at Edinburgh College of Art, Lauriston Place from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. Guests will include supporters of the award, arts and education practitioners, friends and families and will be a dazzling, fun evening enhanced with music from Shooglenifty and some spectacular surprises.

The winner receives £2,000 to spend on their personal development and £5,000 to spend directly on anything that will improve their own, or someone else's, community. The three commendation prize winners will get £1000 each, for their personal development. All of the 10 shortlisted team's pieces will be on show in the Upper Gallery of the Sculpture Hall.

John Byrne, world renowned Scottish artist and playwright, and special guests will announce and present the prizes to the winner and the commendation prize winners. The winner will also announce where they are going to donate their £5000 prize money.

“This Award is even more important to me this year - as well as garnering more entries from Edinburgh schools, it has really taken off in the South Africa, resulting in a flying visit to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer where their show Township Voices was a total sell-out over four days at the Assembly Rooms, providing urgently-needed financial help for woefully underfunded township schools in and around Durban - plus the fact that even stronger links were forged on a personal basis with so many pupils from Edinburgh schools. To watch black and white teenagers linking arms and singing at the top of their lungs and laughing uproariously all the way along George Street after the concert was a sight I will never forget - an absolute joy!” John Byrne

Alex Wallace, Chair of the judging panel said: "The stimulus for this year's John Byrne Ward is a complex one; the optimistic views of Bill Gates that poverty is declining in contrast with Oxfam's view that the inequality gap is ever widening. But the students have risen to the challenge, producing deeply insightful responses in every medium. Sculpture, painting, essays, poetry and drama show how important it is to give young people challenges, especially in values, morals and ethics."

Michaelangelo Mulholland winner of The John Byrne Award 2013 said: “From start to finish, The John Byrne Award has been a truly thought provoking experience for me. It allowed me think about values that are important in every day life and gave me the opportunity to express my thoughts and feelings on a topic that I maybe wouldn't have written about normally. The John Byrne award has given me the ability to think about my music more openly and has given me knowledge and an ability to look more closely at things that inspire me that I still use today in my writing. It was a truly enriching experience.”

The 10 shortlisted entries are: Juliette Lemoine and her painting entitled, 'Solving Inequality'; Samke Nene and her autobiographical essay, 'Breaking Free'; Miriam Seddon and her collage, 'Bliss'; Andrew MacDonald and his play, 'The Treatment'; Walter Kemp-Bruce and Christopher Connarty and their sculpture, 'Caster and Pollux'; Jeehan Asherbrook and her poem, 'From a Window'; Caitlin Carbury and her painting, 'Providence'; Katie Booth, Cara McDonald, Gemma Gorton, Stephanie Gregoriou, and Anna Snell, and their sculpture 'Foundations', Elaine O'Donnell and her poem, 'What Is', and Emily Hopkins, and her painting 'It's Cold Outside'.

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