The winners of the inaugural Scottish Portrait Awards have been announced at the exhibition opening in Edinburgh.

Robin Gillanders took top honours in the photography competition for his portrait of Shetlandic poet and author, Robert Alan Jamieson.

He wins the £2,000 Richard Coward Scottish Portrait Award for his unique image of the writer with an eagle’s feather, which symbolises his interest in nature while also making an oblique reference to a quill.

Robert Alan Jamieson by Robin Gillanders, Edinburgh – Winner of the Richard Coward Scottish Portrait Award in Photography

The awards are open to fine artists and photographers born, living or studying in Scotland with the judges selecting 30 photographic works for the exhibition out of hundreds of entries.

Commendations were also awarded to photographers Robert Andrew Mercer and Oscar Pereira Beiroa.

Gillanders used a large format 8×10 camera complete with dark cloth draped over his head to take his winning image, admitting that he not entered a photographic competition since he was 18 years old.

Next year’s competition opens on January 5, 2018.  For more information, including how to enter, go to

Mary from Glasgow Gorbals by Robert Andrew Mercer, Glasgow – Commendation, Scottish Portrait Awards

“For me, photography is a social science as well as a science of light, shadows, chemistry, and technology. It is a vehicle for a deeper analysis of what is happening in the world around
and within me. I took the photograph with a Hasselblad 503cxi, using Kodak Tri-X 400 film, with window-light.”

Olivia by Oscar Pereira Beiroa, Edinburgh – Commendation, Scottish Portrait Awards

“My interests are in portraiture and documentary photography. As a photographer, I enjoy capturing fragments of time in the lives of others, moments that will never be repeated. I believe that in years to come some of the portraits I have taken might be the only memory left of my sitters for future generations.”

The Silver Swimmer by Frank McElhinney, Scottish Portrait Awards

“A vintage style swimming cap covers Kate Clayton’s silver hair. A knot of faux pearls rests upon her chest. She does not fear aging but, as an older woman, she fiercely resists becoming invisible. Her powerful will to resist drives Kate’s epic feats of endurance swimming. I graduated from the Glasgow
School of Art in June 2014 and have exhibited work in Scotland and internationally. On a cold day in April I accompanied the Silver Swimmer on a journey from her home in Glasgow down the River Clyde to the Isle of Bute where this portrait was made at Ettrick Bay.”

Donnie by Simon Larson, Scottish Portrait Awards

“Donnie Mackinnon was born in Harris in 1935 and now lives on Skye’s Sleat Peninsular. He grew up as a crofter and for many years worked as a shepherd tending over 1,000 sheep on the Tormore Estate. Now 82 years old, Donnie is a popular local character who will happily serenade folk with traditional Gaelic tunes, playing both the harmonica and accordion.”

The Scottish Portrait Awards Exhibition is open to the public from November 7 to December 2, from 2 to 5pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays) at the Scottish Arts Club in Edinburgh.