Rye artist’s painting chosen out of thousands for exhibition

Fiona Graham-Mackay, left, with her portrait
Fiona Graham-Mackay, left, with her portrait

An artist has been selected from thousands of international painters as one of this year’s top artists for the exhibition of the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Award 2016.

Chosen from 2,557 entries submitted from 80 countries worldwide, Fiona Graham-Mackay’s painting of former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion is one from only 53 artists selected to exhibit at the event, which opens on June 23.

Fiona, who lives near Rye, painted it on a BBC Radio 4 programme.

The portrait of Sir Andrew Motion was the first to be painted for a series of three programmes commissioned by BBC Radio 4 where producers follow her as she paints three poets. In the programmes Fiona shares the secrets of the portrait painter as she works to capture the sitter on canvas while the sitter reflects on what being painted reveals and contemplates the prospect of being immortalised in oil.

She said: “I think some people find the process unnerving, as if they’re giving too much away about their inner self. Sometimes they share intimate secrets. I am particularly pleased the painting is going to be shown in Edinburgh. I think I am the only Scot in the exhibition and that is important to me.”

Eve Streeter, Radio 4 programme producer, said: “The first programme about the creation of Andrew Motion’s portrait will be aired on Thursday (June 9), the second about Fiona’s portrait of Pakistan-born British poet, artist and documentary filmmaker Imtiaz Dharker on June 13 and the final one about her portrait of author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay MBE will be broadcast on June 20. There was a moment so moving at the end that both painter and Sissay were in tears.”

Among the many paintings by Fiona are portraits of Prince Michael of Kent, Seamus Heaney and Lord Carrington.

For more information visit www.fionagraham-mackay.com.

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