Wednesday, January 26, 2022

'Extraordinary Portraits' of everyday heroes

ANOTHER new programme about making art - starts next month!

  • Title: Extraordinary Portraits
  • Focus: Portraiture - with a twist! Members of the public with “extraordinary stories” are matched with a selection of celebrated portrait artists who will then capture their likeness.
  • Channel: BBC1
  • Number of episodes: a six-part series (see below for details)
  • Start Date: Monday 14 February 2022
  • Host: Tinie Tempah

When a portrait of mine went into the National Portrait Gallery I remember the immense pride, inclusion and acknowledgement I felt. It was unquantifiable - it made me feel like I was part of a change in the narrative, and so I hope the extraordinary people I have met making Extraordinary Portraits feel the same way.”— Tinie 

Extraordinary Portraits Episodes

I think one of the things I'm going to like most about this programme is it's a wonderful platform for those artists who have emerged into the limelight - but are still very much developing their careers.
I'm impressed by the range, depth and quality in the artists they've selected. Check out the links below to see what I mean.

The other aspect which struck me as I was reading the stories and exploring the links to both artists and their sitters is that this series is going to be inspirational for others. It's great to have something on television about the good news and outcomes that can emerge from difficult or challenging circumstances. It's an excellent way to think about how portraiture can be used for public good. 
“Portraiture has traditionally been a way of commemorating the figures we think of as significant or powerful. What makes Extraordinary Portraits different is that we shift the focus to everyday heroes - shining a light on incredible people whose bravery, courage and good deeds make them truly special, and who we feel deserve to be celebrated." Suzy Klein, Head of BBC Arts
Each episode follows the process of working in collaboration with an artist to create a portrait which captures and celebrates these extraordinary individuals, using different media. They culminate in Tinie and the artist unveiling the final piece to the sitter and their family and friends.

Needless to say I'll be watching - and reviewing the series overall.
  • What follows is the information provided by BBC Media about the different episodes.  
  • I've added in links to the websites of the artist and info about the sitters

Episode 1

artist: Roxana Halls (Instagram)

sitters: Georgia and Melissa Laurie

Artist Roxana Halls is known for challenging how art depicts women. She has been given the task of depicting not one, but two sitters as she explores the unbreakable bond between Georgia and Melissa, twins who survived a near-fatal crocodile attack whilst swimming in a lagoon in Mexico. This traumatic event has left its scars and changed their perception of body image, family and their own inner strength.
I've mentioned Roxana Halls three times on this blog in relation to winning awards (see Review: Society of Women Artists Annual Exhibition 2017) and being selected for the ING Discerning Eye in 2010 and 2011. My recollection is she works small - -but that might be more to do with the exhibitions than the artist - so it'll be interesting to see what size she chooses to work at

Episode 2

artist: Christy Lee Rogers 

sitter: Cee Cee

Celebrated international photographer Christy Lee Rogers helps Cee Cee, a model with albinism, on her journey from self-proclaimed "ugly duckling" to elegant swan, as she shares her struggles with how she is perceived by the outside world and her own self-belief. Christy helps Cee Cee to love herself as she is and find the natural beauty she hid for so many years in a breathtaking underwater photoshoot.


Episode 3

  • sitter: Patrick Hutchinson

Dale Grimshaw, famed for his street murals with a fine art approach, builds a special bond with Patrick, a personal trainer from South London. Patrick was photographed carrying an injured English Defence League member to safety during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in 2020 and was propelled into the media spotlight both here and around the world. This powerful image and act of kindness was hailed as a symbol of unity and humanity. Armed with spray cans and oil paint, Dale learns more about the man behind the headlines and aims to use his unique skill and vision to create a portrait which captures the real Patrick.

Episode 4

Portrait artist Caroline Pool paints Alec Burrough, an 88 year-old dairy farmer from Devon who refuses to slow down. Despite having worked on the farm for 70 years, Alec continues to get up at dawn to care for his cows and ride his tractor, working alongside three generations of family. Caroline is known for creating allegorical portraits that capture the character and personality of her sitters; she believes it’s more important to capture someone’s individuality over an accurate face.
See my blog posts which mention Caroline Pool
"The painting that I liked best was by Caroline Pool I recognised the name straight away. She had two works in the very recent Threadneedle Exhibition 2018 and curiously this work is hung about a couple of feet to the left of where one of her paintings hung in the Threadneedle Space last week!"

Episode 5 

Artist: Thomas Croft BEM

Sitter: Mark Ormrod

Thomas Croft, the artist behind Portraits For NHS Heroes, meets Mark, a former Royal Marine who survived an explosion during a foot patrol in Afghanistan in 2007. The injuries Mark sustained resulted in a triple amputation - he lost both legs and his right arm. Despite this traumatic experience, Mark has become an inspiration; he is a charitable fundraiser, mentor and a role model to other amputees, and is an ambassador for the Royal Marines Association. Thomas is renowned for his ability to tap into the emotions of his subjects, and together, Thomas and Mark explore how we perceive bravery, masculinity, and family.
These are my blog posts about the Portraits For NHS Heroes initiative started by Thomas Croft

Episode 6

This match sees Kelvin Okafor, a hyperreal artist who specialises in pencil portraits, draw Catrin Pugh, a survivor of a bus crash that left her with burns across 95 percent of her body. Kelvin goes to Wales and meets Catrin’s family and speaks to them about how they supported her during her physical and mental recovery. Kelvin describes Catrin as the phoenix that rose from the ashes. After 650 hours of work, is Catrin prepared to see every detail of herself through his eyes?


NOTE: Extraordinary Portraits is a Chatterbox Media production for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. The Executive Producers are Nav Raman and Ali Quirk and it was commissioned by Lamia Dabboussy and Emma Cahusac for BBC One and BBC Arts.

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