Edinburgh students compete in John Byrne Award for Art


Sixth year students from Edinburgh schools express their values through art in a competition named after the multi talented Scottish artist.  They will use a Proclaimers song as inspiration for the project.


“Our best wishes go to all those involved. We hope that you can take something from the song that inspires you to explore things within yourself”   Craig & Charlie Reid  (The Proclaimers)

On the 28th of November the suspense will be over for the 147 Edinburgh school pupils who hope to be the winner of this year’s John Byrne Award.  The award, which is now in its third year, is presented to the sixth year student, or group of students, who express their values most effectively through art.

A wide remit
Students are free to choose whichever medium or media they wish to use in order to explore and express the values which they feel are important to them in today’s society.  They can use paint, theatre, film, dance, photography, song, sculpture, even a mathematical equation, if that is what inspires them.  By looking at the rules that society chooses to live by, the young artists can investigate what they believe to be fair and right and honourable.  They are encouraged in the organisation’s motto to “show the world what is important to you”

Inspiration from the Proclaimers
Each year the students are given a theme to stimulate the creative process and this year the Proclaimers’ song Letter From America has been chosen.  Mr Byrne hopes that the pupils will find the lyrics of the song and the story they tell of the Highland clearances inspirational.  He is looking forward to seeing what the young people of Edinburgh make of it.

John Byrne
The multi talented John Byrne is one of Scotland’s most successful artists. Born on the 6th of January 1940, he grew up in Ferguslie Park.  His mother used to tell how he “was drawing in the pram” and he himself cannot remember a time when he did not draw.

In 1958 he was accepted by Glasgow School of Art and now several of his paintings hang in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

As well as painting he has made an animated film, designed theatre sets and record sleeves for the likes of the Beatles, Donovan and Gerry Rafferty, (Rafferty’s song Patrick was written about Byrne).  For many people though, he is best known as a screenwriter with the Slab Boys and Tutti Frutti being some of his best known works.

He was awarded an MBE in 2001 which he returned in protest at the British Government’s involvement in the Iraq war.  This great diversity of talent and Byrne’s ability to inspire people from all walks of life is the reason that this award was named after him.

The Award
Entries are judged by an esteemed panel of judges including Byrne himself.  The pupil, or group of pupils, who submit the winning entry will receive £2000 toward their personal development and £5000 which they must donate to support a project or organisation that creates positive social changes.

Last years winners from St Thomas Aquin’s donated their £5000 to the Forteviot House Specialist Daycare Centre where it was used to revamp the art room.  Three commendation prizes of £1000 each will also be awarded.

Newsnet Scotland wishes the pupils good luck
In this, its third year, the John Byrne Award has more entrants than ever before with 47 teams from 18 Edinburgh schools making up the 147 entrants. It must be hoped that this success continues well into the future. Newsnet Scotland would like to wish all the young entrants the very best of luck in the competition.