Self-Portrait by Abigail McGourlay Wins Isolation Artwork Competition

Abigail McGourlay Isolation Art Winner

Sheffield’s Abigail McGourlay, a 20 year old art student at The University of Leeds, has won The Art Society’s Isolation Artwork Competition with a wonderful self-portrait.

Isolation Artwork Competition Winner

Abigail McGourlay Isolation Artist Winner
Abigail with her winning painting.

Earlier this year, The Arts Society sponsored an Isolation Artwork Competition for young artists. Entrants to the prize were asked to respond to the theme of isolation and produce new works that reflected their experience during lockdown. As you would expect, many of the works explored feelings of uncertainty, isolation and loneliness as well as nature, connection, and love. Materials used ranged from acrylic to biro and pencil.

McGourlay’s painting titled Brewing was announced as the winner on Tuesday July 7th. The self-portrait depicts the artist doing two of the things she found most comforting during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown; drinking a cup of tea and taking a bath.

isolation artwork competition winner
Abigail McGourlay, Brewing, 2020, oil on canvas, 120 x 85cm

Of the experience of painting during lockdown, she said “I’ve struggled with the current situation both mentally and physically. The uncertainty of lockdown put me in quite a stressful mindset, and I found it, at first, difficult to feel motivated. But it is due to lockdown that I have rediscovered my love of painting. This piece captures a real moment of comfort, in both my two favourite things, a warm bubble bath and a hot cup of tea.”

​Abigail was one of eight artists who had works shortlisted for the prize by a panel of judges including Rebecca Hossack, Charlie Waite and Dan Evans and one to watch. The winning painting was selected by a members’ vote. As winner of the prize, Abigail will have her artwork featured on The Arts Society’s 2021 Membership Card and she also receives a £50 (about $63 USD) Cass Art Voucher.

press for the competition’s shortlist and winning painting.

​Abigail was in the middle of finishing her second year of studying Fine Art at The University of Leeds and was working as a swimming instructor at a Sheffield Health and Sports Center when the lockdown hit. She has been furloughed from her job and was continuing her studies from home.

“I decided to take back some control that the quarantine had denied me and set goals for myself, I began to learn French, work on my fitness and flexibility and most of all focus on my painting projects. Despite the struggle, I feel that I am much more optimistic about my future now, I know I want to make changes to my life and I have been proving to myself that these changes are achievable over the past few months.”

Abigail McGourlay, Thalia Dorme, 2020
Abigail McGourlay, Thalia Dorme, 2020, oil on canvas, 70 x 100cm

I intend to keep an eye on her work. And so should you!

​The Isolation Artwork Competition was set up by The Arts Society, in support of young artists and students during lock down. Florian Schweizer, Chief Executive of The Arts Society comments: “We want to recreate and promote a sense of community, belonging and connection during a time of isolation and distancing. We believe the arts have the power to bring people together, and we will not let this virus stop communities from enjoying the arts with each other.”

Thanks to the following for the images and information: