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Elgin artist Rachel McClure awarded top Glenfiddich art prize worth £10,000

Rachel McClure

Elgin-based artist Rachel McClure, whose Moray base inspires her artwork, has been awarded the coveted Glenfiddich Residency Award.

Ms McClure, who studied at Moray College of Art in Elgin, was chosen to receive the £10,000 prize – the largest award given to an emerging artist in Scotland.

She becomes the first-ever winner from the University of the Highlands and Islands, of which Moray College of Art is a part.

The Glenfiddich Residency Award was presented at the RSA New Contemporaries exhibition in Edinburgh, showcasing talent from five art colleges across the country.

Ms McClure takes inspiration for her artwork from her surroundings in Elgin, illustrating the beauty of town through urban walking.

Rachel McClure (right) with Fanny Arnesen (left), who was also awarded the Glenfiddich Residency Award.

Using urban walking as an artistic practice, she takes various paths through Elgin to capture different scenes.

She said: “Taking repeated walks around the town, using familiar and unfamiliar routes, listening and experiencing, I notice differences, record sounds, take Polaroid photographs.

“Then, using sound recordings, concrete and plaster, I capture instances of the walk, the seen and unseen.

“As walkers we contribute to the fabric of everyday life in an individual manner, creating a meshwork of individual maps, creating our own rhythms which contribute to the rhythm of the city.

“The work expanded during 2020 to encompass the lockdown experience of dislocation to the countryside and walking there during the global pandemic.”

Rachel McClure has already received several awards for her art since graduating in 2020.

Rachel McClure’s ‘simple but effective’ artwork

These include the Grampian Hospital Art Trust exhibition award and the Highland Arts Society Prize in 2018.

The judging panel were impressed with Ms McClure’s simple yet effective artwork as it brought “a taste of Elgin to Edinburgh”.

The judges decided to award two prizes for the first time, also choosing to award Fanny Arnesen, a Swedish artist based in Glasgow.

Both artists will join the prestigious Glenfiddich Artists in Residence programme at the distillery in Dufftown this summer.

The Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Moray. Picture by Jason Hedges.

Colin R. Greenslade, director of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture, said: “The support offered to artists through the Glenfiddich Award at RSA New Contemporaries further emphasises their commitment to new and exciting contemporary Scottish art.

“The Glenfiddich Award enables the winner a period of residential research and exhibition.

“However, perhaps more importantly, the opportunity provides unparalleled access to a network of international artists with whom they live, share experience and knowledge.”

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