A photograph by Justine Bainbridge, a former Forth Valley College student of HND Art and Design, has won the Commendation in Black & White Photography at the 2018 Scottish Portrait Awards.
Currently completing Hons in Glass & Ceramics at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, she said: ‘I don’t often enter competitions, but as part of the criteria of the professional practice module at university, I had to choose something to take part in and I chose the SPAs.”
As a result of entering the competition she has received national attention for her candid shot featuring fellow artist Deborah Sanderson at the launch of Karen Strang’s ‘The Burn and the Tide’ exhibition at the Lillie Art Gallery, Milngavie, earlier last year.
“She has the most expressive face!” said Justine, “Folk say they can’t help but smile back at her. However, the uncensored title raised a few eyebrows, so I was astonished to hear that out of the thousands of entries it was in final running.”
The announcement saw Justine take up an invitation at the winner’s awards ceremony and gave Feminist AF coveted wall space at the subsequent exhibitions in Glasgow and Edinburgh. This exposure not only led to a talk and an exhibition of Justine’s glass and jewellery work at the Scottish Arts Club, but also to the curator of the Resipole Gallery, Acharacle, purchasing a copy of the photo and inviting her to submit three pieces for an exhibition in March.
This is an apt location for the Stirling-born artist’s work, as much of it reflects the beauty of our coastline and islands, which are a nod to her family roots in Orkney and Shetland. Each year she takes part in Forth Valley Art Beat from her seascape-muraled studio in Doune, and she’ll soon begin collaborative work with a contemporary Scottish silversmith once her current commission - to document the buildings of Ardtornish Estate, near the Isle of Mull, in illustrative watercolour - is complete.
These latest recognitions have strengthened her credentials as an innovative and important new Scottish artist, however, she credits the tutors and technicians of Forth Valley College’s Creative Industries Department entirely for helping unlock her potential.
She added: “I still get very emotional when I think of my time at Forth Valley College as it’s such a nurturing environment. I miss it dearly. The bright studio spaces and workrooms, the beautiful location looking out across the Ochils, but at the core of it it’s the staff who make this place extraordinary. They genuinely care, and not simply about your education, but about your happiness, success, and wellbeing too.
“In fact, my daily self-affirmations came from FVC staff: Never compare yourself to others, and never let the medium lead the idea. It can’t be overstated the positive impact those two short years - and two short mantras - have had on my creative journey.”