Sky Portrait Artist of the Year – Sousila Pillay

Attending the prestigious filming of Portrait Artist of the year in the beautiful architectural City Hall in Cardiff is breath-taking enough, but to be surrounded by undeniably creative artistic talent forming in front of your eyes is something not to be missed.  The competition aims to find the UK and Ireland’s best portrait artist and the prize is to have their work displayed at the National Gallery.  In total there are four one day festivals: London and Cardiff have already been held but the two remaining will take place on Sunday 14 July, Royal Dublin Society, Dublin and on Sunday 21 July, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.

Walking up the marble staircase surrounded by huge figurines, I found myself transfixed by… Toast!  Britain’s Got Talent toast artist Nathan Wyburn with toaster and spreads, formed yet another masterpiece.  Upon talking to him, it emerges how unique his talent is: using nutella, marmite, tanning lotion and sugar, Nathan associates the chosen medium with the celebrity.  When asked what happens to the leftover toast, Wyburn explained that it is fed to horses, as a way of reducing waste.  A tasteful, talented and unique skill.

Stood in a silent room, surrounded by television crew, cameras and lights you couldn’t help but drift into the quiet atmosphere of art.  The gentle and hard strokes of a pencil, paint brush, spray cans and even soil are all necessary components of these portrait masterpieces.  Displayed on opposite sides of the room were self portraits of the chosen artists, all varying in size, colour and texture, and all representing their own personalities in the colours, expressions and positioning of the subjects.  Moving slowly from one to another, I could not help but feel inspired.  

Artists formed a circle separated into three segments each consisiting of a well known celebrity or public figure.  Given a strict time limit, the artists were challenged to produce their interpretation in a portrait, each using their own individual style and medium, and at the end of the heat, a winner was decided by a panel of expert judges. With Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell presenting the Sky Arts commissioned programme to be aired in November, it will be an exciting moment not to be missed. It is never too late to try and find your inner artist so go on, give it a go. After all… you have nothing to lose!

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