University of Brighton Alumni Association


Brighton graduate hits screens in Sky Portrait Artist of the Year award

A University of Brighton alumna is to star in the prestigious Portrait Artist of the Year competition on Sky television.

Sara Lavelle, who graduated with first-class honours from her illustration degree last year, will feature in the episode broadcast on the Sky Arts channel on Tuesday, February 26, 8pm.

Judges Kate Bryan, Kathleen Soriano and Tai Shan Schierenberg ran the rule over Sara’s work after she completed her portrait paintings to a four-hour deadline in front of an audience. The programme is hosted by Joan Bakewell and Stephen Mangan.

Reflecting on the experience, Sara said: “All of the other artists were fantastic and the standard was so high. It was amazing to have my work be validated and recognised in such a substantial way.

“The judges are all incredible and inspiring people and to know that they liked my work actually made me cry.”

Sara said that working to a tight deadline was a huge “challenge” but that she was pleased with the work she produced. Viewers can find out whether Sara progresses to the latter stages of the competition by watching her episode next week.

Sara said: “Before I applied to the show, I joked about how I could never do what the contestants do – paint in front of cameras and an audience. I was used to painting on my own with no interruptions for days with endless tea breaks.

“I can honestly say that four hours to complete a painting with continuous interruptions for interviews and special camera shots was the biggest challenge I have had in my painting career.”

“Having come back to the paintings now I am really surprised at what I managed to do. There are some lovely elements that I am really pleased with.”

Sara describes herself as “shy and self-conscious” and said it took a while for her to get used to being filmed, but the experience made her think more about her work.

“My paintings always go through ugly phases and every time the cameras zoomed in on my canvas at those points I wanted to knock them away,” she said.


Nic Ashton • February 20, 2019

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  1. N¡na February 21, 2019 - 10:27 am Reply

    Congratulations Sara – I love this show and I’ll be glued when it’s on.

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