Posted Tuesday 13 March 2018
Kingston School of Art student Georgia Palomba only just made the deadline for entries in the Portrait Artist of the Year competition – with a little encouragement from her mother, she finished her entry the night before. The finished piece – her first ever self-portrait – earned her a place on the fifth show of the television series.
The Portrait Artist of the Year programme, shown on Sky Arts, saw the third year fine art student pitted against three other amateur artists, as well as five professionals, to complete a celebrity portrait in just four hours. Georgia and two others were tasked with completing portraits of Fiona Shaw CBE, an actress best known for her role as Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter films
The 21 year old's work was judged by award-winning portrait painter Tai Shan Schierenberg, independent curator and Chair of the Board of the Liverpool Biennial Kathleen Soriano and British art historian, curator and arts broadcaster Kate Bryan.
"The day was very long and harder than I expected it was but a great experience to see how other artists work and test myself on painting a celebrity in front of cameras and people," Georgia said. "My highlight was definitely hearing one of the judges say my entry piece was the best of the year."
While Georgia didn't make it through her heat, she was inspired to continue to build upon her love of portraiture. "I'm very interested in the human mind and mental health as I have depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder myself," she explained. "I like to explore these things within my painting; my mental health fuels all of my ideas for my art."
Georgia revealed that she use her art as a platform to express how her conditions feel. "I use concepts and symbolism with colour and people," she said. "My latest series I'm working on is about people who are overlooked by society and feel lonely. Loneliness is often ignored or forgotten, but with my mental health conditions, it's one of my worst fears."
She also works with elderly people and dementia patients in the local community, providing art therapy to residents at Coombe Hill retirement home in Kingston. "As dementia sufferers are less able to focus, I place masking tape on canvas which they paint over, then I take the masking tape away and it's left with a pattern," she said. "I do lots of crafts, each one tailored to suit each person."
Adam Gillam, joint course leader for Kingston University's BA(Hons) Fine Art, commended Georgia on her involvement with Sky's Portrait Artist of the Year. "It's a really exciting and wonderful opportunity for Georgia, and a professional extension of her studies here at Kingston School of Art," he said. "She is extremely committed and engaged with her studies and very brave to be prepared to be under such public scrutiny with what is essentially a very private activity."
Following graduation Georgia plans to enter more competitions, including the BP Portrait Awards, and is currently a contender in the second round of judging for the Royal Academy of Portrait Painters Exhibition in London.