Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the year 2013 - show 1. London.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the programme. I think StoryVault Films did a spectacular job. The set design was very clever, and the three sets for each sitter were carefully considered and executed. It was a shame that we didn't see more of it! I was lucky enough to have a brief chat with one of the designers over a bacon sandwich - and he was worried whether each set they had designed married with the theme/identity of each sitter. The lighting rig was also amazing - but the only problem with that as you may see in the next program, is that the natural lighting kept changing - giving the artists quite a challenge during the day.

It was impressive seeing the quality of the work, and also the narratives that were played out by individuals as the show progressed. I was also interested in the sensitivity of the editing and the way the artists were treated - I was worried about the nature of  the 'competition' itself  and how it could be portrayed as a reality TV show - but I was wrong on that assumption. It was a little bit like Antiques Road Show meets Master Chef (or the Great British Bake Off) - Nonetheless it was great to see that figurative work can still get some attention and still has critical value.

Marketing was also clever - see the overarching portrait of the Mona Lisa made up of all our self portraits! See some of the press release below..

Largest art easel and portrait ever displayed in Europe
     Towering 14 metre high easel displays a 5 by 7 metre canvas
     Leonardo da Vinci’s painting voted nation’s favourite portrait of all time
Created to celebrate Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year

A giant canvas of the Mona Lisa has been installed on Clapham Common in central London following a national poll which named the Leonardo Da Vinci classic as the nation’s favourite portrait of all time.

The artwork which is positioned on an easel measuring a staggering fourteen metres high - double the height of an average two storey house, was commissioned to mark the launch of Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year competition, which begins on Sky Arts 1 HD on 5th November.

The Mona Lisa portrait was created using 84 of the individual self-portraits submitted by the shortlisted entrants to the national competition.  Surrey based multi-media artist Quentin Devine spent a week incorporating each individual portrait into the Mona Lisa Mosaic replicating the portraits into 1000 individual pixels to create the Mona Lisa illusion. The giant artwork marks the first time the portraits have been displayed together.

Positioned in the middle of the common, the easel took a team of fabricators over two months to design and construct.  The montage of portraits was printed onto specially designed, wind breathable canvas and measures 5 metres by 7 metres – 85 times bigger than the original portrait which hangs in the Louvre.  The complete structure which weighs three tonnes is weighed down by an additional twelve tonnes of ballast to ensure stability.

Quentin Devine who devised the giant artwork comments "Updating Da Vinci's masterpiece to a 21st century digital piece of art has been one of the largest scale digital art projects I've worked on in my 13 years of being a Multimedia artist. It was a great challenge to combine the rich talents of the portrait artists competing for the accolade of Sky Arts Portrait of the Year." 

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I had no idea that this was being created.. it's amazing to see your own work as a small part of a larger piece! The next show to be broadcast is from Glasgow - the one that I participated in. So I will give a more detailed account of the experience once that show is aired....

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