Dundee mum captures award-winning image of lockdown joy with Overgate

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A mother’s photo of her child playing in puddles has been singled out as the most original piece of lockdown art.

Chelsea McWhinnine (29) from Dundee has won the Hope Hub competition with her photograph of daughter Olivia Shay (4) playing near Falkland in Fife.

The competition, organised by local charity Front Lounge, attracted entries from residents aged 2-72 throughout Dundee, Angus, Perth and Kinross and Fife, ranging from paintings and drawings to digital art, photography and music. Entrants were also asked to reflect on their time in lockdown and express their positive memories, highlighting how creativity can provide escapism and provide an outlet for emotions.

Chelsea and her daughter were presented with a £100 gift card donated by Malcom Angus, Centre Manager of Overgate, and a £100 Hobbycraft gift card.

Chelsea said, “I took the time during lockdown to reflect, re-think and re-focus. I decided to take this negative experience and, because of my child, turn it into a positive. Even during the darkest of times, children have a way of seeing the wonderful in all situations and remain optimistic, seeing the beauty in the world. The rain, the puddle and the enthusiasm my little girl showed going out into the rain to play made me smile with pure joy. This time has allowed me to see that if we could remember that love of life, that imagination, the fun in the little things like kids do, instead of how much we invest in social media or fitting in with what society deems as ‘normal’, we could be much happier. It’s often said that life can be a reflection of your thoughts and if we change our thoughts to see the beauty in the little things in life, like children do, maybe we could change not only our lives but the lives of others too!”

Second prize, a £100 Hobbycraft gift card, has been awarded to Klara De Los Rios (8) from Dundee for her picture of things she has enjoyed during lockdown, framed within a view out of her window.

Klara said, “I am very happy that I have won a Hobbycraft voucher because I can buy lots of art supplies. I love art and being creative and that is why I entered the competition.”

Meanwhile, third prize, a £50 Hobbycraft gift card, went to 19-year old animation student Fiona Stewart from Rattray for her intricate drawing depicting lockdown thoughts.

Fiona added, “I wasn’t expecting to hear anything back from the competition and had really done it both to reach out to others in lockdown and just as something to keep me being creative. I structured the piece to be like a colouring book artwork and eventually coloured it in myself, to show how I enjoyed escaping from my room into a story when it was sunny outside and i desperately wanted to be out.”

The winner was picked by John Alexander, Leader of Dundee City Council who commented, “All of the submissions were outstanding and it’s been difficult to select a winner. I have thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the submissions and all offered a glimpse into people’s experiences over what has been, a very difficult period for us all.

“During the past few months, we’ve all reflected on and reconsidered aspects of our life. For some, that’s presented an opportunity to re-engage with a hobby, reconnect with friends and family or ultimately to focus on what is most important to them.  Chelsea and Olivia’s submission struck a chord with me for several reasons. The image reflects something so innocent and simple: a child’s fun in an otherwise chaotic, dark and cloudy world. Their focus on creating new happy memories, having fun and taking a step back from what can often be, toxic social media are lessons that many have learned over the last few months.”

The Front Lounge competition followed the unprecedented success of the Hope Box project which saw around 800 arts and crafts boxes delivered to those struggling with isolation during the Covid19 lockdown. Before the Covid19 lockdown set in, Front Lounge had intended to run monthly Hope Hub events across Scotland, providing a safe place for people affected by mental health challenges.  The Hope Box project, created by Chika Inatimi in conjunction with Jacqueline Goodall, Hope Hub Lead Artist and Fine Art graduate from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, allowed Front Lounge to continue these efforts, bridging isolation through art.

For more information, visit the Hope Hub website (https://hopehub.scot) and Instagram page @hopehub.scot.