School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences

Painting by Psychology student, depicting Myanmar symbol of resistance, longlisted for the Scottish Portrait Awards 2021

Congratulations to fourth-year Psychology student, Shwe Yin Aye, whose painting, 'May the Revolution Succeed’, was longlisted for the Scottish Portrait Awards 2021 and is now hanging in the department.

May the Revolution Succeed - painting display
Shwe Yin Aye & Dr Sarah Macpherson, Head of Psychology

Shwe, who is self-taught, painted the portrait during last summer’s exam period. The painting, which features in an online exhibition on the Scottish Portrait Award’s website, is now on permanent display in the mezzanine level of the Psychology Building, 7 George Square.

About the painting

'May the Revolution Succeed’ depicts the three-finger salute, which is a symbol of resistance in the pro-democracy movement for Myanmar.

Shwe states:

“While I'm grateful for the positive feedback I have received from the painting, I also want it to illuminate an important issue. After being able to gain more exposure for my painting, I realized I didn't want it to be a celebration of me or my achievement in any way at all. The purpose of the painting was to mobilize people to look up what the salute means and get involved, which is where I wish to centre the attention.”

Shwe painted the self-portrait after Myanmar’s February 1, 2021, coup d'état, which led millions of people, of various ethnicities in rural villages and in larger towns and cities, to take the streets to protest the military junta.

Shwe continues…

“The military junta has desperately tried to maintain its dictatorship since the early days following Myanmar's independence. Therefore, the protests of 2021 are multigenerational. Older people have lived through several coups and protests during their lifetimes. For us young people, who were lucky to have grown up during the period of relative peace following 2010, we now find ourselves living the trauma that our elders were always reluctant to tell us about. Now we stand side by side, young and old.“

Shwe states that a recent political study found that between the years of 1946 and 2021, Myanmar is the country that has experienced the most state violence against its civilians. The country is one of the poorest in Southeast Asia, and has suffered economically within just the past 10 months, and will take years to recover even if the violent system is immediately overthrown.

This self-portrait is a culmination of my pain, my resistance, my hope for Myanmar to recover, and initiative to create a space to talk about what is happening in Myanmar, as a third world country requiring urgent attention and aid.

Shwe Yin AyeFinal-year Psychology student and artist

Follow Shwe on Instagram for a mixture of art, nature, personal events and news from Myanmar

Instagram handle @sheryl_sya

Scottish Portrait Awards

The Scottish Portrait Awards (SPAs) are open to anyone over 16 years born, living or studying in Scotland. It is an annual competition dedicated to promoting the arts in Scotland.