Belfast Telegraph

Antrim woman Sophia Campbell's brush with fame on Sky's Portrait Artist Of The Year

By Claire McNeilly

A local painter has beaten almost 2,000 rivals to make it into the first heat of a prestigious television art competition.

Antrim woman Sophia Campbell, who is based in Belfast, will be up against eight other contestants in the first episode of the new Portrait Artist Of The Year series on Sky Arts.

Viewers will see the contestants paint three celebrity sitters from film and TV - Matthew Goode, Geraldine James and Andi Oliver - in the opening show.

It will air at 8pm on February 12.

The artists will have just hours to complete their portrait, and then it will be up to the judges to pick a winner to send through to the semi-final of this year's competition.

The overall winner will be commissioned to paint a portrait of Sir Tom Jones, which will hang in the permanent collection at The National Museum of Wales.

Returning as judges for the programme are award winning artist Tai Shan Schierenberg, independent curator Kathleen Soriano and art historian Kate Bryan.

Comedy actor and art lover Stephen Mangan, who presents the series with Joan Bakewell, chair of the National Campaign for the Arts, said he was delighted the show was back.

"Joan and I have seen some incredible artists come through the ranks and it has been fascinating to see their portraits of our celebrity sitters come to life," he said.

"Painting done well is a kind of magic, painting done by me is a crime - so it was both a privilege and a relief to watch artists with genuine talent work their magic."

The winner from this heat will join the seven other heat winners to paint British jazz musician Courtney Pine in the semi-final.

The remaining three artists who make it through to the final will then paint Hollywood actress Laura Linney at the National Portrait Gallery.

Those three finalists will also be given their own special commissions to be judged alongside their final work featuring musicians Claire Rutter, Jazzie B and Cleo Lane.

In the subsequent weeks viewers will see another 21 celebrity sitters - David Gandy; Anne Reid and Ashley Walters; Jodie Kidd; James Purefoy and Eddie Hall; Anne Chancellor; Stephen Graham and Beverley Knight; Georgina Campbell; Mark Gatiss and Tanni Grey Thompson; Sophie Ellis Bextor; Adrian Lester; Nitin Sawhney; Angela Griffin; Gina McKee, Jamael Westman, and the final heat features Jodie Comer, Daniel Lismore and Nick Moran.

This is the fifth series of the show, which is produced by London and Glasgow-based independent production company Storyvault Films.

The 2017 Portrait Artist Of The Year winner was Belfast man Gareth Reid with his picture of Graham Norton, now hanging in the National Gallery of Ireland. In an unusual twist, they turned out to be distant relatives.

Portrait Artist Of The Year returns at 8pm on February 12, on Sky Arts and On Demand/NOW TV.

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