Edinburgh-born artist Rhona Jack wins Glenfiddich prize

Rhona Jack built her own loom from discarded roof beams. Picture: Colin Hattersley
Rhona Jack built her own loom from discarded roof beams. Picture: Colin Hattersley
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A YOUNG Edinburgh-born artist who built her own weaving loom has won one of Scotland’s biggest art prizes.

Rhona Jack, 24, who grew up in Edinburgh, and built a working loom and used it to weave patterned textiles, is the winner of the Glenfiddich Residency Award, worth £10,000.

She was among the winners selected from participants in the annual RSA New Contemporaries exhibition, which opened to the public in Edinburgh yesterday and is regarded as the most important showcase of work by recent graduates in Scotland.

As winner, it means she will receive a three-month funded residency at Glenfiddich Distillery, Dufftown, in the summer of 2018, which includes a monthly stipend and generous budget for materials.

Work made during the residency will be exhibited at the on-site gallery, and one piece of work will be accessioned into the William Grant & Sons art collection.

Rhona, who grew up in the city and graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in 2017, decided to make her own loom using discarded roof beams after becoming interested in the process of making textiles.

She then used it to weave fabric in a design inspired by Dundee’s industrial architecture.

She said: “In each piece of work I create, a great deal of time and energy is exerted in the physical making of the work.

The idea for the loom came from a fascination with the development of textiles and the need to make something from scratch which was entirely of my own creation.

“Through this work, I am attempting to humanise a whole industry, showing the individual work and creativity that goes into the textile trade.”

At her degree show in May 2017, she was awarded the Alastair Smart Memorial Prize for Sculpture.

She will now join contemporary artists from the USA, China, Taiwan and Australia on Glenfiddich’s prestigious Artists in Residence (AiR) programme this summer.

Andy Fairgrieve, co-ordinator of the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence programme, said: “The bold geometry of Rhona’s architecturally inspired work quickly caught the eye of our selection panel.

“However, it was her process as much as her aesthetic which grabbed our attention. The industrial heritage of Dundee inspired her to construct her own loom, which in turn allows her to transfer her visualisations from paper to textile.

“She is clearly an observer as well as a maker and I’m sure she will enjoy the transition from jute mill to copper still when she takes up her residency at Glenfiddich this summer.”

Another winner was painter Hannah Mooney, 22, for a £14,000 Fleming-Wyfold Art Bursary.