15 January 2018 13:07

The popular Sky Arts TV programme which aims to uncover some of the country’s most talented portrait artists will feature the work of a Lancaster University student.

Bethany Lee, a second year Fine Art and Creative Writing student, was thrilled to take part in the first heat of Sky Portrait Artist of the Year, presented by Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell, which can be seen on Tuesday at 8pm.

Bethany, who hails from Newton-on-Trent in Lincolnshire, is an avid viewer of the programme in which portrait artists are invited to capture celebrities on canvas.

She applied for the show last year and had to submit a photograph of a self-portrait, a selection of works from her portfolio together with a written submission.

Bethany was then invited to take part in the first heat filmed last year, along with eight other participants at the Wallace Collection art gallery in Marylebone, London.

Divided into three groups, each ‘work station’ was asked to create a portrait of a celebrity – in Bethany’s case, the singer-songwriter James Morrison.

Other celebrities taking part in the first heat included actor David Tennant and actress Michaela Coel.

After the five-hour session (with breaks), the celebrities then chose their favourite portrait before judges art curator Kathleen Soriano, art historian and broadcaster Kate Bryan and renowned portrait artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg whittled it down to one to go through to the semi-finals of the contest.

“James was a really good subject,” said Bethany, who is sworn to secrecy about the outcome of her heat before the programme is aired. “He respected the artists and stayed perfectly still throughout. He was so pleasant and chatted easily with us.

“Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell walked round, looked over our shoulders to see what we were doing and had brief chats.

“It was a really good day and I’m so glad I did it – a great opportunity. It was extremely stressful as the time just flew by.”

Nottingham-born Bethany attended Queen Elizabeth High School in Gainsborough, where teachers encouraged her to apply for the competition, before starting at Lancaster University.

Lecturer in Fine Art (Painting) at Lancaster University Pip Dickens said: “Bethany rose to the challenge, taking her chance in this major televised competition.  Staff and students fully support her endeavour and look forward to her sharing the experience with us on return to University."

  • Sky Arts is an art-oriented television channel offering 24 hours a day of programmes dedicated to arts, including theatrical performances, movies, documentaries and music (such as opera performances and classical and jazz sessions).