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Irish Artist Gareth Reid named as Sky Arts “Portrait Artist of the Decade”

Artist Gareth Reid pictured with actress Dame Judi Dench. Reid was awarded Portrait Artist of the Decade last night by Sky Arts.

Irish artist Gareth Reid, aged 49, has been crowned the "Portrait Artist of the Decade" by Sky Arts. The popular competition show, Portrait Artist of the Year, marked its 10th anniversary last night with a special 90-minute episode titled "Portrait Artist of the Decade".

The show reunited previous winners in Battersea Arts Centre to compete for the prestigious title. Their challenge was to create a portrait of renowned actress Dame Judi Dench. Gareth Reid, hailing from Belfast, emerged as the winner with his impressive charcoal drawing of the iconic actress.

The panel of judges included acclaimed portrait painter Tai Shan Schierenberg, esteemed curator and art historian Kathleen Soriano, and Soho House's Head of Collections, Kate Bryan.

Reid's award-winning drawing will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery, London. Reflecting on his success Reid described it as a truly memorable experience.

“We filmed the episode back in May so it has been a strange situation not being able to share the news with anyone. Since then I've had ample time to process it all, but it still feels completely surreal to be awarded Portrait Artist of the Decade. I was utterly shocked when my name was read out, I expected nothing so I feel extremely fortunate and honoured to have been chosen. Winning the first time was already extraordinary, but this is way beyond that. Having my daughters there with me and working under pressure alongside such a great group of talented artists on the day was an experience that I’ll never forget”.

Reid won the Sky Portrait Artist of the year in 2017, surpassing 54 competitors for the coveted prize. As the winner, he had the honour of capturing the likeness of Graham Norton. The painting then entered the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Ireland. Following his success, Reid went on to receive numerous prestigious commissions, most notably painting King Charles in 2019.

Graham Norton by Gareth Reid

Reid's artistic journey began in Belfast, where he honed his craft before attending the esteemed Glasgow School of Art. Now, he balances his time between his studios in Ireland and Glasgow.

The portraits of Judi Dench featured in the show, including Gareth Reid’s, will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London from 19th October until 31st December. New paintings by Reid will be featured as part of a group exhibition in La Roche House, Belfast and can be viewed by appointment from 27th-31st October. He will also have a new work in Sotheby’s London sale of Irish Art, which previews on 9th-12th November, RHA, Dublin then at auction 15th-21st November, London.

Portrait Artist of the Year airs weekly on Sky Arts, Freeview and NOW from 11th October.

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