Dundalk woman second Irish person through to Sky’s Portrait Artist of the Year semi-final

Dundalk native Leanne Mullen became the second Irish artist to go through to the semi-final of Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year last night.

She saw off eight other artists in the second heat of the competition.

Leanne Mullen

Leanne, who now lives near Carlingford, impressed the judges with her portrait of catwalk queen Daphne Selfe.

She will now go forward to the semi-final of the competition which will air on Sky Arts on March 13.

She joins seventeen-year-old Hetty Lawlor from Mayo, who last week became the youngest artist ever to progress to that stage of the competition.

Hetty Lawlor at work.

"Leanne really shone through. She’s got this experience and quality to her work. She understands painting and sculpture," said Independent Curator and judge, Kathleen Soriano.

Leanne trained as a sculptor, and studied Ceramics & Sculpture at the National School of Art & Design in Dublin before mastering in Sculpture & Printmaking at Ulster University.

She started painting five years ago because the cost of producing sculptures is expensive and as a single mum she needed to prioritise her mortgage.

Her son finally convinced her to enter the Portrait series this year.

Leanne has a purpose-built studio in her garden, meaning artwork is created daily, and the four-hour limit imposed by the TV show is no obstacle as she works quickly and spontaneously, hoping to achieve a level of energy in her work.

She describes an inner dialogue going on within herself constantly when she paints, one voice is saying ‘You’re crap, its crap give up’ the other voice saying ‘you’re ok, its ok, you’re great’.

Over 1,000 artists from across the UK and Ireland applied for this year’s series of Portrait Artist of the Year.

Leanne’s completed portrait of Daphne Selfe

"The Irish are off to a flying start on this year’s series of Portrait Artist of the Year with two brilliant Irish women through to the semi-finals. And we’re only in week 2. There are more Irish artists to see," said a spokesperson for Sky Ireland.

This year, the winner will be awarded a £10,000 commission to paint multi-award-winning actor Kim Cattrall, and the finished portrait will hang in the permanent collection at The Walker Art Gallery in Kim’s birth city of Liverpool.

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