TV Review: Portrait Artist of the Year, Sky Arts 1
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Wednesday 06 November 2013
Sky Arts' random-presenter-generating machine has thrown up an interesting pairing to front their new television competition show. Portrait Artist of the Year will be presented by veteran broadcaster Joan Bakewell and that er... renowned expert in fine art Frank Skinner. It's Bake-Off, but with painting, because apparently there is no hobby or artistic pursuit that won't do as the basis for a TV talent competition. Whatever next? A show about competitive stamp collecting presented by Kerry Katona and Alan Yentob? A taxidermy tournament with Mary Beard and Peter Andre? Let's hope so, because on the evidence of last night's episode these marriages of high and low culture can be surprisingly successful.
Six 60-minute programmes will decide which of the 21 artists wins the big prize, a £10,000 commission to paint Booker Prize-winning author Hilary Mantel. The first of the heats took place in a tent near the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square, where the contestants were given four hours to portray one of the three familiar faces who had come to sit for them: Alison Steadman, Robert Lindsay or Juliet Stevenson.
Bank note designer Louis daubed blocks of colour on his easel without anything close to a likeness appearing for some time, while 17-year-old student Kemi took to her canvas with alarming confidence to quickly produce the faces of Juliet Stevenson and her young son. To see the different artists at work, employing very different methods was a thrill even for the three judges. "I deal in art but I very rarely see portraits being painted," said Kate Bryan, head of contemporary art at the Fine Art Society. Meanwhile, fellow judges Kathleen Soriano, director of exhibitions at the Royal Academy, and portrait painter Tai-Shan Schierenberg argued over their preferred style. "I like a big head with lots of paint," said Schierenberg firmly. Soriano was less convinced.
Simply to hear fine art debated enthusiastically by knowledgeable people was a treat, and even more so, given this is a format that might appeal to an audience wider than the usual BBC4 crowd. A different celebrity sitter each week should sprinkle some stardust on proceedings, while the fact that the judges already seem to have developed a simmering dislike for one another also bodes well for our future entertainment. All they need now is to somehow get Mel and Sue involved and they're on to a winner.
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins gives rare glimpse of sensitive side with heartfelt open letter to her children penned in case she dies from epilepsy
- 2 Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
- 3 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 4 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Penny Dreadful, series 2 episode 1, review: It is still gloriously silly
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
Eurovision 2015: What date and time is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
Indiana Jones sequel confirmed by Lucasfilm - but will Harrison Ford return to the franchise?
How the Other Half Eat, Channel 4 - TV review: Swapping food trolleys shows how food and class are closely connected
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils