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TV talent hunt launched to find portraitist for Hilary Mantel


Comic Frank Skinner is to lead a TV talent hunt to find an artist who will be asked to create a portrait of double Booker Prize-winner Hilary Mantel.

The winner will land a £10,000 commission to depict the Bring Up The Bodies writer, with the artwork to be displayed at the British Library through the Sky Arts contest.

All the finalists in the competition will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, which will also consider the victor for a future project.

Skinner will be joined by broadcaster Dame Joan Bakewell to present the series, Sky Arts Portrait Artist Of The Year, to be screened later this year.

Heats will take place at art festivals over the summer and competitors will be challenged to portray one of three sitters, at least one of whom will be a public figure.

They will be advised by expert judges from the Royal Academy of Arts and The Fine Art Society as well as portrait artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg.

They will be joined by director of the National Portrait Gallery Sandy Nairne when it comes to choosing the overall winner.

Art enthusiast Skinner said: "I love the idea of rolling into town with our portrait roadshow and seeing who's got the guts and talent to step up to the easel. I'm preparing myself for some beautiful surprises."

Dame Joan said of the series: "I hope it inspires everyone to tap into their creative spirit and perhaps we'll find the next Rembrandt."

The artist is not restricted to working in paint, but photography, video, sculpture and works using computers are not allowed.

James Hunt, channel director of Sky Arts, said of the show: "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."

The six-part series - which climaxes with a 90-minute final - will be screened from November.