2018 Awardee: Shola von Reynolds

"I find it legitimately exciting that Dewar are supporting black Scottish artists and writers, and am elated to be one of them."

Biography

Shola von Reynolds is a Scottish-Nigerian writer. A graduate of the MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, Shola completed the course with support of grants and a Jessica York Writing Scholarship.

After graduating, Shola remained in Glasgow, began writing a debut novel and also gained a coveted place to study on the MSt in Literature at the University of Oxford.

In 2018, Shola was Cove Park’s Scottish Emerging Writer and has had fiction published or upcoming in The Cambridge Literary Review and The Stockholm Review amongst others. Shola writes widely around race, ornament, beauty, and gender, has written articles for AnOther and i-D and is a Scottish Review of Books Emerging Critic.

How the Award Helped

Receiving a Dewar Arts Award enabled Shola to work on LOTE, a debut novel which follows present-day narrator Mathilda’s fixation with the forgotten black Scottish modernist poet and socialite Hermia Druitt.

The award also supported Shola in undertaking an MSt at the University of Oxford. This will facilitate a new stage of research into black and Asian figures in Europe prior to WWII who have been absent from cultural histories. It will also broaden archive and museum-based research skills of the kind precious to any writer.

Shola tells us;

The same week I received my place on the course, diversity statistics showed that black students face particularly significant barriers when it comes to studying at Oxford, with white peers twice as likely to be accepted. Many who are accepted are less likely to take up their place due to financial reasons. Given all this, I find it legitimately exciting that Dewar are supporting black Scottish artists and writers, and am elated to be one of them. Without the award I would simply not be able to accept my place and I would particularly urge any writer of colour in Scotland to apply.

"I find it legitimately exciting that Dewar are supporting black Scottish artists and writers, and am elated to be one of them."

2017 Awardee: Caighlan Smith

"As the author of five published YA Fantasy novels, this is a dream program for me...It has been an amazing experience and will have a lasting impact on me as a writer. Receiving the Dewar Award has enabled me to continue with my studies in Glasgow and, for that, I will be eternally grateful."

Biography

Caighlan Smith is a Saltire Scholar at the University of Glasgow, where she is studying for a Masters in Fantasy Literature. This programme gives her a unique opportunity to showcase her talents both as a creative writer and an aspiring academic.

Born in Canada in 1994, Caighlan decided she wanted to become a novelist at age 9.  At age 13 she wrote a 550 page fantasy novel. At 17 she wrote her third novel, ‘Hallow Hour’. It was signed with a publisher and released in 2013.

Caighlan writes Young Adult dystopian fiction; a fusion of science fiction, fantasy and classical myth. Her strong sense of characterization and formal inventiveness has drawn excellent reviews from critics on both sides of the Atlantic.

Caighlan was a finalist for the Dell Undergraduate Award for Excellence in Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing in 2015 and again in 2016. She has written 19 novels and 2 novellas.

Living in Scotland is having a rich and distinct influence on Caighlan’s writing.  Her sixth published novel, the sequel to ‘Children of Icarus’, will be released in the UK by Curious Fox and in North America by Switch Press in 2018.

How the Award Helped

Caighlan received an Award to support her in her studies on the Master of Letters in Fantasy at the University of Glasgow – the first and only postgraduate fantasy program in the world.

"As the author of five published YA Fantasy novels, this is a dream program for me...It has been an amazing experience and will have a lasting impact on me as a writer. Receiving the Dewar Award has enabled me to continue with my studies in Glasgow and, for that, I will be eternally grateful."

2017 Awardee: Rachel Rankin

"With support from the Dewar Arts Awards, I am able to fund my postgraduate studies and focus completely on my creative work. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity as I know this award will help me on my way to becoming the best writer I can be. Thank you."

Biography

Born in 1994, Rachel is a writer and poet from Coatbridge, described as ‘utterly committed’ with ‘outstanding potential’.

After gaining a first class mark in creative writing studies at the University of Edinburgh, Rachel was offered a place to study on the MSc Creative Writing. She opted to follow the poetry strand, and alongside her studies has acted as a poetry editor for 50GS (an online creative journal) and volunteered with the Scottish Poetry Library.  She has worked part-time as Deputy Programme Assistant at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and as a Tutor in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Rachel’s work has been published in various journals including Gutter magazine and Antiphon. In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Jane Martin Poetry Prize, organised annually by Girton College at the University of Cambridge. She has performed her work both nationally and internationally and has twice been on the winning team of Unislam, the UK’s inter-university performance poetry championship.

Rachel has competed in a national performance poetry competition at the University of Texas, represented Scotland at the Talking Doorsteps Poetry Project at the Roundhouse, and performed her work in Bergen, Norway, where she lived in 2014-15.

As well as poetry, Rachel is interested in playwriting and writing for the theatre. Her play exploring class relations at university was selected from 75 five entries to be performed at the Winter Words New Writing Festival, organised by Glasgow based In Motion Theatre Company. She has been involved with the Traverse Young Writers group at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and was selected to participate in the Scottish Review of Books Emerging Critics Mentoring Programme, where she was mentored by editor Alan Taylor.

How the Award Helped

Rachel received an award to help support her through her postgraduate studies on the MSc Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh.

"With support from the Dewar Arts Awards, I am able to fund my postgraduate studies and focus completely on my creative work. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity as I know this award will help me on my way to becoming the best writer I can be. Thank you."

2016 Awardee: Adam Murdoch

"To be selected was incredibly humbling, and not only validated what I had already achieved, but drove me to apply 110% of myself to my writing."

Biography

Adam’s passion for writing started from a very young age, when he would scribble random symbols and letters on scrap pieces of paper and then present his parents with his ‘stories’, insisting that they read them back to him. This love of storytelling quickly developed into a love of reading, as he devoured books and excelled at English in school.

Adam was accepted onto a course in English Literature at the University of Glasgow, but found this didn’t quite satiate his desire to tell stories as well as read them. He began instead to invest increasing amounts of time in one of his option courses, Film and Television. He switched to study this full time, and graduated with an MA (Hons) in Film and TV in 2015.

After graduation, Adam was determined to tell his stories through the screen. He applied and was fortunate enough to be accepted onto an intense, one year Screenwriting Conservatory program at the illustrious New York Film Academy, at the Manhattan Campus. There he wrote several pieces for both big and small screens, and also managed to sell a screenplay for production in Bermuda.

This was an excellent opportunity to learn and network at the hearts of the industry, but Adam has never lost sight of his Scottish roots. His ambition is to draw inspiration from his upbringing, and create stories weaved around his home country.

How the Award Helped

Despite working two jobs and hosting several fundraising events in the year between leaving University and starting at the Film Academy, Adam was unable to fully cover the cost of studying New York. Adam’s Award helped him to make up the shortfall, allowing him to fully focus on developing his skills on the course, and enabling him to make the most of this rare opportunity.

"To be selected was incredibly humbling, and not only validated what I had already achieved, but drove me to apply 110% of myself to my writing."

2016 Awardee: JD Stewart

“To be given assistance by The Dewar Arts Award is a tremendous honor and validation of all the hard work I have done over the last year. It has also enabled me to complete my studies at Tisch and for that, I am eternally thankful."

Biography

Born in Edinburgh and raised in the Scottish Borders, JD Stewart discovered his love of theatre at the Edinburgh Acting School. He went on to develop his passion for the craft alongside his writing skills by completing a BA/Hons in English Studies at Stirling University, specialising in Creative Writing.

After graduating, JD worked in a number of locations throughout England, before moving to South Korea where he taught English for three and a half years. While there, his plays were produced by the Daegu Theatre Company and his stories assisted students learning English in China.

In 2015, JD was one of 22 students worldwide to be accepted onto an MFA in Dramatic Writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He was a finalist for the Theatre Aspen Festival in 2016, and his plays have been workshopped and read throughout the city.

JD’s passion for writing extends to television and film, but his heart is in playwrighting. He hopes to continue this journey by exploring his cultural Scottish roots throughout his work.

How the Award Helped

After completing his first year at Tisch School of the Arts through assistance from his parents, JD was awarded with a Dewar Arts Award to help him continue and complete his studies in the Autumn of 2016 and Spring of 2017.

“To be given assistance by The Dewar Arts Award is a tremendous honor and validation of all the hard work I have done over the last year. It has also enabled me to complete my studies at Tisch and for that, I am eternally thankful."

2015 Awardee: David Linklater

The Dewar Award has granted me the time and space to focus solely on my writing, for this I'm very grateful.

Biography

Hailing from Inverness, David is a writer of determination and distinction.

Moving from the Highlands to Glasgow in 2012, David applied for the HNC Professional Writing Skills course at City of Glasgow College.  Despite his lack of prerequisite qualifications, David’s impressive portfolio earned him a place on the course.

Having already self-published two books of poetry, David completed a third during his time on the course. He also performed a daring and spontaneous piece at the Creative & Cultural Skills Scotland annual conference, and won the class prize – awarded annually to the most outstanding student.

David went on to take an HNC Practical Journalism course in 2014 and was equally successful, contributing several pieces to publications and impressing with his versatility. In the meantime he continued to develop his career as a writer of prose and poetry, and was published in several respected poetry outlets.

David is an extremely capable journalist and an excellent prose writer, but it is his poetry that stands out. He creates work that rises above his peers and demands to be noticed.  In 2015, his prodigious talent was recognised by the University of Glasgow, who offered him an unconditional place on their illustrious M.Lit course, even without a degree level qualification.

David’s work has been published in Glasgow Review of Books, The Grind, ODOU, The High Flight and The Speculative Bookshop, amongst others. In 2016 he was shortlisted for a Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers Award. 

“His poetry is sometimes rustic but never twee, youthful and contemporary without being naïve or following trends, and most of all extremely evocative.” John Clarke, Lecturer, City of Glasgow College.

How the Award Helped

David’s Dewar Arts Award supported him in his masters studies at the University of Glasgow, enabling him to progress his formal qualifications to postgraduate level.

The Dewar Award has granted me the time and space to focus solely on my writing, for this I'm very grateful.

2012 Awardee: Allan Wilson

I am humbled by the faith that has been shown in my work and will...make the most of the time and freedom afforded to me by the Dewar Arts Awards

Biography

Allan is a talented writer with enormous potential. In 2010, his work was selected from hundreds of applicants to appear in an anthology of stories entitled The Year of Open Doors. The book was edited by renowned author Dr Rodge Glass, who sought to showcase the best in young Scottish writing. He describes Allan as “one of the finest young literary voices in Scotland”.

To develop his skills, Allan enrolled on the Creative Writing Masters Degree Course at Strathclyde University. In 2012, he released his debut collection of short stories, Wasted in Love. This received much critical acclaim, with broadsheet newspapers and established authors praising Allan’s technical ability, honesty and originality. The book was shortlisted for the Scottish Book of the Year 2012.

Based in Glasgow, Allan runs workshops and performs regularly at spoken word events.

“Allan takes risks with his writing. He does not opt for commercial, feelgood material, but instead explores the complexity of human relationships, in all their darkness and ambiguity. His use of language is judicious, sharp and powerful; he has already developed a disciplined editorial eye. He balances humour with shock, warmth with intensity, and as a result Wasted in Love has proven to be one of the best collections of short-stories published in Scotland in the last few years.” Alan Bissett

How the Award Helped

Allan received a Dewar Award to support the writing of his first novel, The Astronaut.

Since the Award

Shortlisted for the Scottish Book Trust Awards 2012

Review of Wasted in Love in The Scotsman

Allan Wilson performing live at Words Per Minute

Allan performing at Literary Death Match

Wasted in Love

★★★★ A compelling selection of short stories. The characters are vividly brought to life by Wilson’s powerful writing and terse dialogue.” Daily Express

“Out-Joyces Joyce with his celebration of the mundane. This is a writer who pays attention and writes with such vigilance and diligent compassion that you admire and hope for more.” The Scotsman

“Quite frankly, it’s a brilliant book, well crafted, authentic and necessary.” The Skinny

“reads like the real thing… a terrific debut anthology.” Tom Leonard

I am humbled by the faith that has been shown in my work and will...make the most of the time and freedom afforded to me by the Dewar Arts Awards

2012 Awardee: Gillian Park

Completing my Masters degree at the National Film and Television School is my number one priority

Biography

Gillian Park is a young screenwriter of exceptional talent and great promise.  She is a natural storyteller with a flair for comedy and a powerful, original voice.  Her work reflects her Scottish background with a warmth, vigour and authenticity, but she is equally able to push outside the confines of her own experience to explore different genres and areas of writing.

Born in Irvine, Gillian left school at 17 to do a HNC in TV Production at Glasgow Metropolitan College.  Whilst there she discovered a passion for writing, and after finishing her course she was accepted on a course of study at the RSAMD (now the RCS).  The short film she wrote and directed there was screened internationally at a number of festivals and went on to win several awards.  She graduated from her degree with first class honours.

After graduating, Gillian began working with a variety of production companies, but her dream was to study screenwriting at the National Film and Television School.  In 2012 she applied with a script set in Scotland and was successful, gaining an outstanding opportunity to hone her craft.  The fees and living costs in London proved challenging, however, and Gillian was awarded a Dewar Arts Award to support her in completing her MA and making the most of the opportunity she had strived for.

Agent: http://www.casarotto.co.uk/client/gillian-park–18650

How the Award Helped

Gillian received a Dewar Arts Award to enable her to complete her masters degree at the National Film and Television School, London.

Since the Award

March 2015 – Nominated for a BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award: Writer, Flotsam

Trailer: The Last Resort written by Gillian Park (c) NFTS 2014

Completing my Masters degree at the National Film and Television School is my number one priority

2011 Awardee: Cheryl McConachie

I can assure you that I will study extremely hard to make the most of this opportunity and cannot thank you enough for this direct contribution to my future

Biography

Born and brought up in Elgin, Cheryl went to school at Elgin Academy where she won the first ‘Star Writer’ award. She went on to do a first degree in English Language and Literature and also gain a Dip HE in Fine Art from the University of the Highlands.

Cheryl’s first love is creative writing and she has aspired to be a writer from a young age. She is now undertaking an MLitt in Creative Writing at St Andrew’s University, where she is considered to be a considerable asset to the writing community.

Her strong, contemporary and richly nuanced voice won her admirers from the outset, and she is thought to have considerable potential as a published writer of the future.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award will support Cheryl through her master’s year on the creative writing course at St Andrew’s University.

I can assure you that I will study extremely hard to make the most of this opportunity and cannot thank you enough for this direct contribution to my future

2009 Awardee: Alan McKendrick

Thanks very much, I’m delighted… and am already looking forward to being able to embark on my project with support from the Award.

Biography

Freelance stage writer/director/translator Alan McKendrick, from Glasgow, already has a number of stage successes under his belt. His most recent stage work as writer/director includes The James Dean Death Scene, Finished With Engines and The Bad Drive Well. In 2006 he was winner of the Arches Award for stage directors (for The James Dean Death Scene) and the following year reached the final shortlist for the prestigious Meyer-Whitworth Award for the UK-wide best play by a new writer (for Finished With Engines).

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award helped Alan to spend a period of time on a creative attachment with the renowned Schaubuehne Theater, Berlin.

Since the Award

Having spent a period of time in Berlin, Alan writes that his “original intention was to…consolidate upon my already-extant skills as a playwright, director and translator. I believe that …this was ultimately achieved on a personal level.” The fruit of this time in Berlin began to appear some months after his return to Scotland, which includes the possibility of his own work being translated into German and him working with a German director on a German-English stage translation.

Thanks very much, I’m delighted… and am already looking forward to being able to embark on my project with support from the Award.