Midlothian youngsters in the frame at SQA's Art Open Day

SQA Art Open Day

Kaitlin Morton from Tynewater Primary School shows Dr Janet Brown her version of ‘The Skating Minister’ by Sir Henry Raeburn.


Creative school pupils and artists from community groups across Midlothian gathered at Lowden, our new offices near Dalkeith, to see their work exhibited for the first time.

The artwork, which decorates the meeting rooms and public spaces at Lowden was created as part of the Midlothian Art Challenge competition.

The competition encouraged pupils from local primary and secondary schools and members of community art groups to stretch their creative skills and produce a piece of work inspired by a famous Scot.

The exhibition included caricatures, portraits, landscapes, abstracts and collages which represent Scottish icons including Robert Burns, designers Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret MacDonald, patriot Sir William Wallace and Sir James Young Simpson, the physician who discovered the anaesthetic properties of chloroform.

Among those attending the open day were Kaitlin Morton from Tynewater Primary School, whose work was inspired by the ‘Skating Minister’ painted by Sir Henry Raeburn. 

Speaking about the art competition, Kaitlin said: “I was really proud to see my work on display and I’ve very happy to hear the kind things people have said about my picture.”

Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive, said: “Each of these pieces contributes to the inspiring atmosphere in our new offices and creates a real talking point among our staff and visitors.  We received a fantastic response from the people of Midlothian who took to the art challenge with great enthusiasm.

“I hope all the exhibited artists take great pride in this accomplishment and hopefully some encouragement and inspiration for the future.”

Colin Taylor, head of education at Midlothian Council, said: “A huge well done to all the artists who took part in the competition. There’s not many of us can boast they have had their own work exhibited, especially in such a prestigious building. This has been a great experience for them all and they’ve had fun and learned more about their country’s history at the same time.”

Also on Display at Lowden are three pieces of art commissioned by SQA from schools across Scotland who have a track record in developing creative talent.  Works from Castlebrae Community High School in Edinburgh, Dollar Academy and Williamwood High School in East Renfrewshire are on display in the public spaces in Lowden.

Ann Archer, faculty head at Castlebrae High School, said: “Our third year pupils visited Lowden while it was under construction and created a piece of art called ‘New Beginning’, which reflects nature and the surrounding area.  We are very proud to know that our piece of work will be on display for all of the visitors to the new building to see.”