An Award Winning Artist and his Art Show

Friday 15 June 2018

Remember this animation that James made?

I wrote all about it in this post here, and explained how James went about writing the music, recording the music, taking the photos and then animating it. 

Well, his art teachers were so impressed with it that they entered it into the annual Paolozzi Awards. The Paolozzi awards are held every year in Edinburgh to recognise and encourage young artists. All art teachers throughout the city are invited to enter any senior pupils that they think should win the award and James' teacher entered him for his animation. He had a phone call from his teacher last Tuesday telling him that he had been shortlisted for the final, which took place the following evening in Edinburgh's National Gallery.

We were all completely over the moon when the following evening James won the overall Paolozzi Prize!

After he had had his photo taken with his dad, above, he got to chat with some of the judges. This is him with Richard Demarco, one of the biggest names in Edinburgh's Art world and also one of the founders of the Edinburgh Festival.

It was a thoroughly well deserved prize for James. He put so many, many hours of work into his animation and thought through every little detail so well. We were all so proud of him, for working so hard and so pleased for him to have his hard work and talent recognised on such a big stage.

Less than a week later, this past Tuesday, the art high continued for James as we all went along to see his A-Level Art Show.

He has put a huge amount of work into his A-Level Art this year. Not just his animation, but all the preparatory art work he had to do as he explored the whole topic of  'Journey' before he worked on the animation; his architectural component; and all the work building up to his final component, which was titled 'Limitless'.

Let me take you for a look around his area of the art show.

First of all there was the big screen showing his now officially 'award winning' animation.

Beside it hung the certificate the school art department received for James winning the Paolozzi prize. Unfortunately the date has been printed wrong on the certificate, and also on the one James himself received, as it says 2016 and not 2018!

Hopefully you can read the paragraphs underneath. These are what his Art teacher wrote along with his entry for the prize.

Surrounding the screen with the animation was all the other work James did based on the theme of 'Journey', alongside his sketchbooks that keep a record of every part of work that he has done.

He made a series of little dioramas of a man on a journey going through different terrains. These were loosely based around The Pilgrim's Progress.

You can also see a couple of pages from a little book he made about the stick man that he would eventually animate. Fraser made a guest appearance in it!

These are some of his architectural project. 

And then this is all the work leading up to his final component, 'Limitless'.

A few months ago when James first told me that he wanted to do something that was equally impressive as his animation for his second component I told him he really didn't need to. Especially when he told me that he was planning to build a full size arcade machine. Not just build and decorate the shell of the arcade machine, but also learn how to code a computer game. And do the artwork to add to the computer game. And write music for it too.

I knew that the art work and the music wouldn't be a problem for him. I thought that perhaps he could build the arcade machine, but since he's never done any coding at all before, I honestly had my doubts about whether he could manage that part of it.

But of course he did manage it.

All of it.

He had many late nights while he worked on this, but the end result is the most amazing working arcade machine!

The boys all absolutely loved getting the chance to play on it after seeing little snippets of the game as it was written over the last couple of months.

The art work, music and overall style of the game is based on the old retro games that James loves.

The art exam took place over three days and the pupils can do as much preparation work for it as they want in advance. So James bought the mdf and spent about 8 hours one Saturday cutting out all the pieces he needed with a jigsaw. He bought an old computer monitor and used that as the screen. He bought a joystick and button set on Amazon. Of course he did all the art work for the game, recorded the music and coded it all in advance too. 

On the days of his exam he had to turn all of that into the arcade machine. I have no idea how he got it all to stay together so flawlessly, as there are no screw holes anywhere. Lots of dowels and wood glue I think he said.

Originally he had planned to paint the whole thing black, but then he had a last minute change of plan and went for the sky blue colour on the sides, complete with these amazing painted mountains on the bottom, which I think looks so much more impressive than if he had gone for his original plan.

These wee clips give an idea of what the game itself was like, and if you listen carefully you can hear how perfectly the music fits it too. He even managed to tie it together with his animation by re-recording part of the music from the animation on 8-bit sounds and using that for the section of the game that has forest in it.

It wasn't just our boys who were keen to play it either. I don't think there was any time during the art show that there wasn't a crowd of people around the arcade machine having a go on it!

And that's about all of his art work.

He's taking a well earned break from all those late nights of coding now!

People at the show were asking what James' plans are now that he is finishing school this month. He plans to take a year out and work while he decides what he really wants to study. He's planning to apply to study composition next year, although I think he does still think that maybe art could be an option. He also fancies having a go at working in the Gaelic media, and so he's keeping all of his options open for now and not rushing into anything.

Whatever he decides though, if he applies himself as much as he has done this year with his art and music then I know he'll make a success of it. And I couldn't be more proud of how well he has used his talents this year either.