Fragment of Deconstructed © Calum Stevenson
130cm x 92cm, oil on wooden board

Student Spotlight: Calum Stevenson, Dundee Materials Prize 2018
October 17, 2018
The next student to be featured in our Student Spotlight series is Calum Stevenson, recipient of a £500 Materials Prize awarded by ACS at the University of Dundee this year.

In addition to renewing existing prizes and bursaries, in 2018 ACS have partnered with more institutions than ever to award over £30,000 to ensure that students and emerging artists throughout the UK are supported. We are thrilled to announce our new undergraduate prize at the University of Dundee.

Find out more about how Calum confronts personal fears through his artwork, and how he combines digital collage preparation with traditional oil painting techniques.


Q. How would you define your work in three words?


Phobic medical obsession.


Q. What does winning the ACS/Dundee Materials Prize mean for you as an artist?


Winning the ACS Materials Prize for me is a huge honour. This accolade has given me a real surge of confidence. It’s great to see that my work was recognised and I have been given the chance to improve myself even further.


There is a lot of financial strain that comes with this degree as it requires all my time during the course of the semester. With this prize I am going to have a lot more focus for my work. It will also help me to improve and build upon my practice as much as possible for my upcoming degree show. For this show I want to impress, to do this I must invest in quality tools. Winning this grant for me means that I will be able to afford high quality oil paints that contain a high pigment level. This will ultimately improve the vibrancy and overall look of my work. Along with this, I can fund a new set of brushes and finance my studio space for another year.


As an artist this is really going to improve my outlook for the future. With the ACS Material Prize, I will be able to fully put my time into improving painting and creating. The need for a part time job will be lessened and it really helps to take the financial pressures off during an important final year at University.


Q. What medium do you mainly work with and why?


I tend to work with oil paint on wooden board. I’ve worked with photography, digital tablets and more but I always come back to oil painting. I love the traditional nature of setting up a palette and pushing that paint around my board.


There are endless possibilities that oil paint can present and the feeling that it gives me when I get something how I want it is unbeatable. There is a real immersion that you get with oil painting where nothing can take you away from your work and you leave all other problems behind for the time being.


Q. Where do you find most inspiration for your work?


With my work I draw massive inspiration from my surroundings and experiences. Growing up in and around the area of Cumbernauld I was constantly admiring the grim beauty of various brutalist architecture buildings. I enjoy painting these buildings within my work as I look back on the place that I have strong yet unappreciated connection with.


When I was younger, I became unwell during a family holiday which left me in a foreign hospital hooked up to an IV line. Since that experience I’ve always been fascinated by my fear for medical imagery. Though it makes me uncomfortable, I like to work with these images and combine them with my childhood surroundings to make a very personal painting.


Detail of Deconstructed © Calum Stevenson
130cm x 92cm, oil on wooden board


Q. Take us through your working process.


My painting process begins in digital. I work with scanned images from various medical journals and geographic books, to create digital collage. It is this digital collage that I then work with to produce a painting. I work mainly on wooden board and begin by painting a quick under tone to bring about a harmony of colour. The painting tends to differ from the digital collage, certain things that work digitally don’t translate to my painting and it is dilemmas such as this that help the painting to become something more interesting and different from the digital piece.


Q. Can you remember the first work of art that you created? What was it and why was it so memorable?


One of the earliest works that I can recall for me was a landscape that I produced in art class way back in primary school. I remember when I finished it I was very proud and my teacher at the time hung it on the wall as a standard for the project to the rest of the class. This was one of the first times that my work was seen as art and not just a random, childish rendition of a landmark. After this I was very interested in art and growing up this interest never wavered.

We wish Calum the best of luck in his final year, and look forward to finding out more about how the ACS/Dundee Materials Prize has contributed to his final degree show in 2019.