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Paisley’s newest contemporary art gallery, artspace37, based in The Piazza Shopping Centre, is proud to announce that they will host the prestigious Paisley Art Institute’s Scottish Drawing Competition which returns after a four-year hiatus, from 4th – 26th June.  Works featured are from PAI artist members and open entrants, with 181 selected to feature in the exhibition.  


Drawing has featured heavily in people’s lives during lockdown.  The lockdown theme wasn’t called for but is still emerging in entrants’ work.  Emerging themes are:  creative resilience; mental health and wellbeing; how people are coping; physical health – struggling with sleep; trying to figure out a new life path; imagining places they can’t travel to; also re-imagining places, cityscapes and familiar buildings and reaching out for family.  Black Lives Matter has also been a theme with people power and identity and politics coming through.  Nature and landscapes also features heavily in many of the works.  

The exhibition features three video works with the themes of movement; Makin’ Bread – working with the elderly to make bread, exercise and make art.   There are some powerful abstract works inspired by spirograph and circular drawings referencing our ancestors work in caves which have a textural quality as well as an intimacy. Some works are dark and some expressive. Some represent the experience of frustration – all very 2020!

This year’s prize winners are: 

The William & Mary Armour Award

  1. ‘Inter Facade’ Ally Wallace chosen by Sam Ainsley RSA D.Litt   

“I rarely find an abstract drawing that speaks to me authentically. this one does; I sense someone grappling with something hard to put into words and that by reiterating something over and over a kind of meditation or reverie is induced. I would love to speak to this artist about his sources/inspiration as I would guess they are more literary than visual art?”

The Jamieson Award

  1. ‘Alice’s Model’ Mary Gillespie chosen by Charles Jamieson

The John Joseph Morrow Prize

  1. ‘Presence Within’ Angela Repping chosen by Rowena Comrie, Chair

Outspoken Arts Scotland Award

  1. ‘Tick Tock & Tin Hats’ Deborah Sanderson chosen by Selectors upon suggestion of OAS.

“This work was chosen as an excellent representation of all of our recent struggles, not only with Covid19, but also with mental health and wellbeing.  It offers us a view of life, a tidal wave of humanity swept away by strong emotions. The artist herself exemplifies what it means to struggle with a life-threatening condition whilst maintaining a creative outlet.”

Velvet Easel Gallery Prize

‘A memory carried away dream by dream’ Zuzanna Salamon chosen by Sam Ainsley   

* note this work may be viewed on website only*

How many artists make a “portrait” from behind where you cannot see the face of the subject? Few I guess. I was mesmerised by this image where I could only speculate about the identity of the subject and yearn to know more about the ‘sitter’. A beautifully enigmatic portrait which brings to mind many influential female artists and authors. This work stood out for me from all the other entries and again, I would love to be put in touch with this artist if she is agreeable? 

As part of the Scottish Drawing Competition exhibition, artspace37 will host artist-led drawing workshops on 5th, 12th 19th and 26th June featuring emerging artists, Katie McGroarty and Russell MacEwan and PAI Artist Members, Lynn Howarth and Eoghann MacColl.  These classes will cover various drawing techniques and are free to book, with a maximum of 12 attendees.

The new space has been created by Paisley-based arts organisation Outspoken Arts Scotland with the aim of supporting emerging artists and those affected worst by COVID19.  Artspace37 will feature a year-round programme of exhibitions from both emerging and established artists.   

Steven Thomson, Creative Director, artspace37, commented: “We’ve been busy working behind the scenes during lockdown to create this new gallery. We’re absolutely thrilled to be opening Artspace37.   Not only do we have the prestigious Scottish Drawing Competition, a major coup for the gallery, taking place in June, but we’ll be supporting young emerging artists and providing them with a space to show their work.   We’ve built up a great relationship with our featured artists and we will continue to support them. We’re welcoming approaches from artists who may be interested in working with us at the space.”

Rowena Comrie, Chair and Membership Officer, Paisley Art Institute commented: “”The Paisley Art Institute Scottish Drawing Competition is a surreal mirror that reflects the variety, ingenuity, obsessions, ideals, joys, passions and pains of contemporary life by artists from Paisley and beyond. At last, an exhibition that you can visit in person, to appreciate the experience of enjoying culture, right in front of you.”