ORA by Gary Iles

Back for yet another series, the ever-popular Sky Arts “Portrait Artist of the Year” show is set to return to our screens in 2019 and welcome a new presenter to the fold.

Now hosted by Joan Bakewell and Stephen Mangan, the competition is to be judged by award-winning artist Tai Shan Schierenberg, independent curator Kathleen Soriano, and art historian, Kate Bryan with the heats currently underway at the Wallace Collection.

Competing to win a £10,000 commission to paint Sir Tom Jones to be displayed in the Museum of Wales and £500 in art supplies to continue to practice their craft, the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year has become a regular fixture on every art lover’s viewing calendar with members of the public jostling for seats to watch the six heats that began back in February.

With the semi-final just around the corner, the contestants have already painted an array of professional and celebrity sitters much to the delight of the audiences back home, and there is much discussion on style, technique and potential winners that will make the final at the National Portrait Gallery.

This series has also seen its fair share of controversy already, with many viewers calling for Sky to include the names of the artists on the closing credits to the programme. Plenty of opinions have been circulating about whether the competition is fair to the amateur artists who are set against professional painters in their bid for the title of the portrait artist of the year.

Despite this, the programme is gaining in popularity each year and attracting new viewers with an interest in art and portrait painting.

Filming for the 2020 programme is now also underway, with the application deadline having already been met and artists selected. For those that still want to get involved, there is the opportunity to attend the heats that span over six episodes and sees a fresh venue used for this stage.

Anyone with an appreciation of art and wishing to attend the heats at the Battersea Arts Centre is welcome to come along to watch artists paint a host of celebrities from 2nd–12th April 2019 between Monday and Friday, and the best news is that there is no need to pre-register for tickets!

Simply turn up to Battersea Arts Centre, and you’ll be able to watch the contestants and sitters in action as they are filmed for the next series.