A COMMEMORATIVE exhibition aims to celebrate the Sky Arts’ TV series, Portrait Artist of the Year, at Compton Verney Art Gallery.
The exhibition – open from February 19 – is curated by one of the programme’s judges, independent curator Kathleen Soriano. It features over 120 pieces from more than 1,000 artists who have taken part in the competition since it was launched in 2013.
Over the years Portrait Artist of the Year has unearthed and encouraged portrait artists from all walks of life – teachers, surgeons, security guards, amateur and professional artists, with many going on to make a living from their art.
Showcasing the sheer diversity of the different styles, media and approaches, the exhibition will also display the work of all past winners with their subsequent prize commissions for major museums and galleries including the National Gallery of Ireland, the British Library and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
Several famous faces will return the viewer’s gaze, including celebrity sitters such as actors Kim Cattrall and Imelda Staunton, musicians Sir Tom Jones and Nile Rodgers, writers Dame Hilary Mantel and Lemn Sissay, plus broadcasting legends Lord Melvyn Bragg and Graham Norton.
The exhibition will highlight the power of art, not least of all for its ability to inspire a sense of community and creativity during lockdown, especially in relation to supporting wellbeing.
This was realised by the international community of artists that developed as a direct consequence of the live-streamed Portrait Artist of the Week series on Facebook Live and Sky Arts, bringing people together in a shared and creative experience.
Compton Verney devotes a significant amount of its exhibition to self-portraiture which is at the competition’s heart with applicants first submitting a self-portrait to enter.
Visitors can explore artists’ individual style, from Shanti Panchal’s colours of his native India and Hun Adamoglu’s iconography filled painting that evokes his Cypriot origins to Rosso Spotto’s tongue in cheek passport-photo style images.
Gallery CEO Julie Finch said: “One of the most inspirational aspects of Portrait Artist of the Year is the way that it has democratised art, giving people both the confidence to speak about art and express their opinions without fear, and maybe even to pick up a brush or a pencil and create for themselves. That’s why we are so pleased to be hosting this glorious celebration of making at Compton Verney.”