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Jolomo Award 2009 – and what it means to me.

It’s been three months now since I received the Jolomo Award 2009 for Scottish Landscape Painting.

It was great timing as the previous year I’d taken the decision to move from working on an amateur basis to working professionally. The final transition took place at the end of May and I heard I’d won the Jolomo award on June 12th.

There’s obviously a lot that comes with winning such a prestigious award, but for me one of the biggest things has been that it financially underpins my new professional status. One of my biggest worries about full time self employment was that I’d be tempted to try and create more ‘saleable’ images rather than concentrating on developing the very best work. The Jolomo award now gives me two year security and an opportunity to really develop my work and practice.

At this early stage it seems vitally important to promote this as widely as possible ….I’ve come to realise, perhaps a little late, that being an artist is not just about creating the work … has to be a business person too.

Of course, the award has helped greatly in spreading news of my work. Since June I’ve had articles in a number of newspapers, one of the most interesting being in The Scotsman on Saturday 13th June ….the day after the award was announced. There’s also been increased interest from galleries and I already have a fairly busy schedule next year.

One of the problems of having such limited sight is that everything takes me a great deal of time. I paint fairly slowly, but I now have much more work to do on the computer …at times I seem to be doing almost as much writing as painting! I’m currently working on an article for the ‘Scottish Mountaineer’, the quarterly magazine for the Mountaineering Council of Scotland. My work is very closely connected to the walking and climbing I do in the Scottish Highlands and this side of things was greatly helped back in 2001 when I went on the inspired ‘Mountain skills course for visually impaired’, run by the MC o f S at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore. This course gave me the confidence to get back into the mountains despite my visual impairment and these walks are now the main source for my work.

I’m run off my feet since the Jolomo award …but it’s a great problem to have!

Keith Salmon

PS: Shortly after I won the Jolomo Award I was interviewed by Ali Abubakar of the Scottish Art Circle. You can read the first part of that interview here.