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Ross-shire artists draw praise from top Scottish artist for competition entries

By Hector MacKenzie

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John Byrne presents Kai Finlayson of Strathpeffer Primary School with a runner-up award.
John Byrne presents Kai Finlayson of Strathpeffer Primary School with a runner-up award.

A BUDDING artist from Strathpeffer rubbed shoulders with one of Scotland's greats when his entry to a national drawing competition put him in the frame for a prestigious accolade.

Kai Finlayson, a P7 pupil at Strathpeffer Primary, was named amongst the runners-up in a competition which attracted a staggering 7000-plus entries.

He was amongst four Highland school pupils selected to win awards in the John Byrne National Drawing Competition.

Inverness High School S2 pupil Oliwia Bembnista was the overall third place winner. Other runners-up included Neve Lambert, a P7 pupil at Avoch Primary on the Black Isle and Jessica Milne, an S1 pupil at Nairn Academy.

The pupils were presented their awards by the renowned artist and playwright at a ceremony at Paisley’s Tannahill Centre, where a special exhibition of competition entries is on display until April 15.

John Byrne said: “This year we judged more than 7000 entries and the level of talent and imagination was outstanding.

“I’m encouraged by the standard of all the artwork submitted and I hope pupils across Scotland will continue to show us their artistic skills and love for drawing.”

The competition is run in partnership with Education Scotland and open to pupils across Scotland from P4 to S3.

Alan Armstrong, strategic director for Education Scotland, said: “Art and design are important parts of the Scottish curriculum. For years, this competition has encouraged many thousands of children to use their artistic talents to create inspiring and unique drawings.

“Education Scotland is proud to support the competition and its ethos of keeping the art of drawing alive.”

Renfrewshire Leisure Chairperson, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “This annual drawing competition is a great way to encourage young people to fulfil their artistic potential.

“John Byrne is one of Paisley’s famous sons and his paintings and plays are enjoyed by many generations. For all we know, we might find a new John Byrne in our midst among the young artists whose work is on show.”

Two Aberdeenshire pupils took out the top two prizes. Ailsa Lipp, a P4 pupil at Largue Primary School was the overall winner, with second place going to Jack Esslemont, a P5/6 pupil at Aboyne Primary School.

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