The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

The Jekyll & Hyde transformation of being an award finalist

In the days, and even hours running up to the Dumfries & Galloway Life Awards 2017, I knew I wasn't going to win the visual artist/maker category. And I was genuinely fine with that. Afterwards, I also knew I was never likely to have won. And I was genuinely fine with that too.

But in the 30 minutes or so before the winner was announced, a desperate, highly competitive side to me was shouting in my head that this award absolutely and completely DESERVED to be mine.

The Dumfries & Galloway Life Awards celebrate the business, culture and, above all, the people who live in this corner of Scotland.

The fact that some people had taken the time to fill in a form and put my name forward with an explanation of why they felt I should be awarded – and then for the judges to select me as a finalist – felt wonderful, and was certainly reward enough. I didn't feel the need to win anything beyond that.

My fellow finalists were artist, Julie Dumbarton, and potters, Fitch & McAndrew. Highly talented and internationally recognised, these people help spread the value of Dumfries and Galloway well beyond its borders.

So while it was a delight to be included in their company, I knew I wouldn't really be in the running for the top prize. But that was OK. I would still get a free dinner at the awards night and see plenty of people I know.

I donned my least faded black jeans and my least crumpled shirt for the evening. Dinner was good. I found myself seated on the same table as Doug Fitch of Fitch & McAndrew. I've met him a few times and we've always got on well. In fact, the previous evening I'd even met him in the local supermarket and we'd discussed the upcoming awards. 10 minutes later I'd met him again when he asked if he could borrow my phone as his car wouldn't start and the battery on his phone was dead. I was only too happy to be able to help out.

My money was on Fitch & McAndrew. Julie had won it in 2013 and 2014, so I figured they'd give it to the potters this time.

As the desserts were cleared off the table, and the awards began, I started to wonder whether I might actually be in with a chance after all. And as they went through the different categories, slowly moving towards the visual artist/maker award, my heart rate started increasing, and I began seeing myself walking up to the stage to collect MY award. This feeling grew stronger and stronger as the minutes passed until by the time the category before us was announced, I was totally convinced I was going to win. I KNEW it to the core of my being. In fact I completely and utterly deserved this award. It was MINE.

My precious...

Another part of my brain was watching this reaction and laughing at the ridiculousness of it. But some deeper, competitive, primal part of me was still experiencing these feelings to quite an intense degree.

Just as I was about to leap up and claim my rightful trophy, they announced Julie Dumbarton was the winner.

For a brief moment I was dumbstruck by this hideous travesty of justice and was about to demand an investigation into the obvious corruption of the judges.

And then the moment passed. Of course Julie was going to win. The same reasons she's already won twice before still existed, and the judgements were based on merit, not past history.

Like looking in the box at Schrödinger's Cat - once the outcome has been witnessed, it has always been thus. All I could do was feel a bit foolish for having thought it could have ever been any other way.

I applauded Julie, now genuinely pleased for her. But I felt a bit disappointed for Doug.

I leaned over and whispered into his ear.

"Let's go and find Julie's car and let her tyres down..."


Pat said...

You'll always be a winner to me. Now I know you're human too.

Jualis said...

Ah Kim to win would have been wonderful I was sure you would but here's to next year !!

hope said...

I agree with Pat. Maybe we can come up with our own award for you. :)

Kim Ayres said...

Pat - Meg told me I was still a winner in her eyes so took me for a hot chocolate to celebrate. Part of it is she wants everyone to feel good. The other part is she's looking for any excuse to go to a cafe :)

Judith - I was surprised Blood Bikes weren't a finalist this year. I did put in what I thought was a strong nomination.

Hope - every time you come here and comment, I feel I've been given an award :)

daisyfae said...

i absolutely adore this degree of honesty -- you are quite human! i was in a similar situation, for far less prestigious recognition. the month before, i knew it was an honor and privilege to even be recognized, but as the day grew closer, i wanted it... i convinced myself there was a chance... i invited my parents to the awards event, of course, lowering their expectations.

when the winner was announced, the only thing i remember from that moment is the sound of my mothers disappointment - "Awwww...". Ouch.

two years later? i was a finalist for the same award. i knew someone on the committee. i invited my children ONLY after learning that i had, indeed, secured the win. i was not going to set myself up to no only lose the award, but disappoint my children.

thank you for your honesty!

Kim Ayres said...

Daisyfae - I work on 2 assumptions - the first is that if I'm feeling this, the chances are there are others who have similar experiences. The 2nd is, if I take these darker feelings out and place them in the open, then their power over me shrivels up in the light.
I greatly appreciate your response as it means I'm not the only one in the world with these emotional responses :)

Jualis said...

Thank you for nominating us Kim but lots of worthy charities out there & the winner was a great choice. Like I said -always next year !!

neena maiya said...

I think everyone feels the way you do in this situation. You have to be a robot to not care.

As far as I'm concerned, your photography is brilliant. And that is what matters.

I don't have a competitive streak, so I can't see myself entering any competition.

savannah said...

I love the last line! I can picture you leaning over and saying it, too! I always see you with a twinkle in your eye and a sly smile, and ready to laugh! As our kids always say, "You're a winner! Teddy knows!"* xoxox

*Ages ago, when they were young, one of the boys found a talking teddybear that had "inspirational messages for your Boss." It was their birthday present to the MITM that year.

Kim Ayres said...

Judith - once they see the amazing photo we created for Blood Bikes, they won't be able to resist :)

Neena - Now if we could just smuggle you onto the awards panel for next year... :)

Savannah - What a fantastic present! How long did it last before the batteries mysteriously disappeared? :)

Hindsfeet said...

hey friend : ) Just wanted to add my kudos here, for the honor and recognition your community gave you (even though shared with Julie : ) ) ...I dont know if you guys have personalized license plates out there, but if you do, you should make yours "FLASH"... (ya know, like a camera flash)... : ) just a random thought.......

all well wishes always, Kim....
Happy and Merry for you and your family,
Liz ~


Kim Ayres said...

Hi Liz - many thanks :)
Personalised number plates (license plates) have to come from the existing structures, rather than being able to use any word. So at the moment, UK number plates are made of 2 letters, 2 numbers, then 3 letters.
So, you could, for example, make "musical" out of MU 51 CAL - but only if someone else hasn't already taken it :)

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