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Abigail Mcgourlay, Brewing.jpeg



Abigail McGourlay, 20 from Sheffield, has been named the winner of our Isolation Artwork Competition for young artists with her painting titled Brewing (left). 

Brewing is a self-portrait which shows Abigail drinking a cup of tea in the bath, two things she says she has found comforting during lockdown. She said of the experience of painting during lockdown: “I've struggled with the current situation both mentally and physically. The uncertainty of lockdown put me in quite a stressful mindset, and I found it, at first, difficult to feel motivated. But it is due to lockdown that I have rediscovered my love of painting. This piece captures a real moment of comfort, in both my two favourite things, a warm bubble bath and a hot cup of tea.”

Entrants to the prize were asked to respond to the theme of isolation and have produced new works that reflect the artists experience of lockdown. Many of the works explore feelings of uncertainty, isolation, loneliness as well as nature, connection, and love, using subject matter ranging from self-portrait to shielding loved ones, and materials ranging from acrylic to biro and pencil.  

Abigail was one of eight artists who had works shortlisted for the prize by a panel of judges including Rebecca Hossack, Charlie Waite and Dan Evans, all eight artists works feature in the gallery at the bottom of this page. Abigail’s winning painting was selected by a members' vote; as winner of the prize, Abigail will have her artwork featured on our 2021 Membership Card and she also receives a £50 Cass Art Voucher.

Abigail was in the middle of finishing her 2nd year of studying Fine Art at The University of Leeds and was working as a swimming instructor when lockdown hit. She has been furloughed from her job and  has been continuing her studies from home. She found the lock down experience incredibly stressful and says “I decided to take back some control that the quarantine had denied me and set goals for myself, I began to learn French, work on my fitness and flexibility and most of all focus on my painting projects. Despite the struggle, I feel that I am much more optimistic about my future now, I know I want to make changes to my life and I have been proving to myself that these changes are achievable over the past few months.” 

The Isolation Artwork Competition was set up by The Arts Society, in support of young artists and students during lock down. Florian Schweizer, Chief Executive of The Arts Society comments: “We want to recreate and promote a sense of community, belonging and connection during a time of isolation and distancing. We believe the arts have the power to bring people together, and we will not let this virus stop communities from enjoying the arts with each other.”

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