A Dundee-trained artist has spoken about how memories of his late father led him to one of Scotland’s top art prizes.
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design PhD student Li Huang, 49, won the Scottish Portrait Award 2020 with ‘Between This World and the World Beyond’ – a double self-portrait representing a conversation between Li and his father.
Upcoming photographer Ben Douglas, 22, who grew up in The Gauldry in North Fife before moving to Dundee, was the second local winner at the awards.
His shot of Dundee band The Valens in Crichton Street won him the Young Photographer title.
Li said his painting was inspired by his father, who died more than 10 years ago after an illness.
“It’s about kinship and parental care,” he said.
“I originally painted my mother then I moved on to my father,” he said.
“The family connection is always there even when they have passed away and I tried to build a connection between me and my father.
“I painted two self portraits because every son is from the father. I painted the self-portraits as a representation of my father.
“It’s been more than 10 years already, but the memories kept coming out. It’s something I couldn’t cut it off. It just kept getting stronger and stronger. This is what triggered me to paint my father.”
Li won the £5,000 first prize in the competition, which celebrates and promotes excellence in contemporary portraiture in Scotland.
He is in the first year of his PhD research in Dundee after already obtaining undergraduate and masters degrees in the city.
He was born in China and lived and worked in Glasgow in a number of jobs including chef and in a trading company before moving to Dundee.
His mother still lives in China and was excited to learn about the win.
“It’s the distance, you know, especially at this time with the pandemic. It’s even more important to connect,” he added.
Ben Douglas’ photo ‘We Got Everything’ contrasted the sharp-suited, Teddy Boy-inspired band The Valens with the dank Dundee alley.
He said it was a strange experience discovering he was the winner.
“I got a Zoom call, which was getting recorded, and seeing your wee face there on the screen. I couldn’t take the grin off my face.
“I took the shot a couple of years ago, but it’s always been a poster image for me.”
He took the photo as the band emerged from their flat, headed for a gig in a Dundee pub.
“The boys looked cool. They were all mad on their Beatles, their Kinks and especially the 50s, Richie Valens, Buddy Holly stuff.
“It was a gang more than anything,” he said.