Paint it back: Portrait Artist of the Year returns to Sky Arts for eighth season in October

A celebrity reacts at her portrait in Portrait Artist of the Year season 8

Portrait Artist of the Year, Sky Arts breakout hit, will return for its eight series on October 13.

Celeste, Alastair Campbell, Alexa Chung, and Lydia West will all sit for portraits in the new season, as a hopeful selection of amateur and professional artists compete in the quirky art compo, which is staged in Battersea Arts Centre.

Stephen Mangan and Joan Bakewell return as hosts, aided and abetted by expert judges Tai Shan Schierenberg, Kathleen Soriano and Kate Bryan. 

The format remains unchanged. Nine artists will wield brushes in each of the eight heats, and this year each heat winner will go on to paint legendary former Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason (now touring with Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets) in the semi-final. The grand finale will see three finalists battle it out to take home the crown, painting the iconic Barry Humphries, aka stage and TV personality Dame Edna Everage.

This season’s Portrait Artist of the Year winner will receive a £10,000 commission to paint Scottish-Italian classical solo violinist, Nicola Benedetti, which will be exhibited at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Key to the appeal of the show are the diverse, and celebrated celebrities from the worlds of stage, screen, literature, sport and politics…

Of course, key to the appeal of the show are the diverse, and celebrated celebrities from the worlds of stage, screen, literature, sport and politics. Taking the subject’s chair this year are: Celeste (Singer/Songwriter), Kelly MacDonald (Actor), Gabrielle (Singer/songwriter), Lydia West (Actor), Nish Kumar (Comedian), Alexa Chung (Model/TV Presenter), Alistair Campbell (Politician), Ian Hislop (Journalist), Hugh Skinner (Actor), Daniel Mays (Actor), Gyles Brandreth (former politician) Emma Dabiri (Author), Sophie Cookson (Actor), Jacob Fortune-Lloyd (Actor), Polly Walker (Actor), Philip Glenister (Actor), Chris Packham (Naturalist), Ali Jawad (Paralympic powerlifter), Arlene Phillips (Dancer), Grace Neutral (TV Presenter), Maggie Aderin-Pocock (Scientist), Sergei Polunin (Ballet dancer), Karen Gibson (Conductor) and David Olosuga (Historian).

“I never cease to delight in presenting Portrait Artist of the year: once again the series brings a galaxy of famous faces and reputations, their faces as varied as their careers… each one challenging our eager competitors. The whole thing mixes talent with pleasure, effort with entertainment,” says Bakewell.

Over the years Portrait Artists of the Year has unearthed and nurtured some brilliant portrait artists, many of whom have gone on to successfully make a living from their art, says Philip Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts. “That’s something we are really proud of as we welcome back a new intake of brilliant painters to turn our celebrity sitters into works of art. Watching paint dry has never been this exciting.”

Portrait Artist of the Year is available on Sky Arts, on satellite, Freeview, Freesat and Now. Need more art in your life? Companion show Landscape Artist of the Year is due to return in early 2022, with production already underway.

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About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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