Ulster Student Scoops Top Painting Prize

UU student Ross Watson wins Art of Nurture competition

A University of Ulster Fine and Applied Arts student has scooped top prize of 10,000 euro by winning an all-Ireland student art competition. Ross Watson was chosen from over 100 entrants to win the Art of Nurture competition - an innovative arts project developed by Commercial Finance Ireland to help boost the career prospects of student artists.

The first year student, who is originally from Bangor, will receive 5,000 euro of the prize money and will have his work exhibited in the prestigious Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin. The remaining 5,000 Euro will be used by the University to help fund field trips for painting students and to purchase art materials.

Mark Ainsworth, lecturer in the School of Art and Design, says: 'Ross is an exceptionally talented student who is very committed to the course. He is a most deserving winner and has gained a great deal of confidence from his success.

'This is the second year running that one of our students has won this competition. Last year’s winner Mary McCafry is now completing her Masters of Fine Art at the Belfast campus. This is a wonderful achievement for these young artists, considering they are competing with people from all over Ireland and this reflects the high calibre of students who choose to study at Ulster’s School of Art and Design.'

Ross painted a picture entitled ‘Leading the Way’ - depicting a flock of birds with a lone blue
jay leading the group - 'The flock of birds acts as an analogy for competing businesses in a crowded and sometimes frantic market, while the lone jay at the front of the flock represents the leading component in the group - setting the standard for its competitors,' explains Ross.

'The jay is seen to be more resolute, more unwavering and more colourful than all the others.' He adds: 'I used a wide range of media to accomplish the image, starting with acrylics and plaster, before adding finishing touches in oil paint.

'I was delighted to find out that I had been shortlisted for the Irish finals and that my work would be exhibited in the High Lane Gallery in Dublin. To be selected as the overall winner was the icing on the cake.'