Portrait Artist of the Year to be crowned by Sky Arts

Sky Arts is to search across the UK and Ireland for an inspiring and talented artist who can be crowned Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year.

Working with prestigious organisations including the National Portrait Gallery and The British Library and presented by Joan Bakewell and Frank Skinner, the competition will be filmed for a series to be broadcast in the autumn on Sky Arts.

Joan Bakewell comments “This is a wonderful idea. I hope it inspires everyone to tap into their creative spirit and perhaps we’ll find the next Rembrandt.”

Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year will aim to discover and nurture artists of all capabilities including enthusiastic amateurs and professionals who want the chance to develop and showcase their skills. Participants will be able to seek advice from some of the top names in the art world and the series finalists will see their work displayed in the National Portrait Gallery.

The winner will join a select group of distinguished artists who may be considered for a future project by the Gallery, and will be awarded a £10,000 commission to paint double-Booker and Costa Award-winning author Hilary Mantel for The British Library. The painting of Mantel will be displayed at The British Library and become part of its permanent art collection. They will also receive a year’s supply of art materials courtesy of leading fine art supplier Cass Art.

Four heats will take place at free art festivals in London, Dublin, Glasgow and Cardiff over summer 2013. At these festivals, participants will be challenged to produce a portrait of one of three sitters. Sitters will include at least one public figure. They will receive help and advice from a panel of expert judges and at the end of each heat the judges will choose the artist they believe to be the most talented to go through to the final. The Judges will be Kathleen Soriano, Director of Exhibitions of the Royal Academy of Arts, Portrait artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg and Kate Bryan, Head of Contemporary at The Fine Art Society.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery adds, “The National Portrait Gallery is very pleased that Sky Arts are promoting an interest in portraiture in Britain and Ireland and we look forward to hosting the final stage of this nationwide celebration of artistic talent.”

The four winners from the heats will then take part in two more extraordinary portrait challenges including producing a portrait of a public figure or famous person over an extended period of time.In the grand finale, work by the finalists will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery. The overall winner will be chosen by the series’ judges together with Sandy Nairne, the Director of the National Portrait Gallery.

As well as celebrating portraiture, Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year will explore the stories, commitment and passion of the artists who take part. Visitors to the free festivals will be able to celebrate portraiture in all its guises with masterclasses and showcases from some of the UK’s most interesting artists.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said “Artists, designers, film-makers and other creative practitioners regularly use the British Library’s collections for inspiration, information and practical support. We are delighted to be working with Sky Arts on the Portrait Artist of the Year competition, and look forward to displaying the winning portrait in 2014.”

In a complementary series, art historian Tim Marlow will meet and interview some of the biggest names in portraiture. These talks will be filmed in front of an audience at the festivals and will illuminate aspects of portraiture featured through the series Sky Arts Portrait Artists of the Year, including the muse, political portraits in the modern age, satire and painting nudes.

“Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year is a hugely exciting and special project for the channel. It seeks to discover and engage with established and undiscovered talent, both on and off screen, and aims to inspire artists of all capabilities across the UK and Ireland,” comments James Hunt, Channel Director of Sky Arts. “We are thrilled to be working with The National Portrait Gallery and The British Library on such an exciting project.”

Artists of all abilities, aged 16 and over, are invited to apply to participate via the Sky Arts website here.

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