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Exeter artist is a semi-finalist of Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year

PUBLISHED: 16:02 20 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:02 20 February 2017

Gregory Mason - semi-finalist for Sky Arts' Portrait of the Year

Gregory Mason - semi-finalist for Sky Arts' Portrait of the Year

Matt Frost 2011

Gregory Mason is through to the next stage of Sky Arts’ competition, which will see him painting a portrait of award-winning star of stage and screen Imelda Staunton

Exeter artist Gregory Mason is through to the semi-final of Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year (PAOTY), which will see him painting a portrait of award-winning star of stage and screen Imelda Staunton

Greg, who fought off strong competition in the fourth episode of the series, painting UK actor Trevor Eve (Trevor also chose to take Greg’s portrait home with him at the end of the show), is an Honours Graduate of St Martins School of Art in London, where he studied illustration. He worked for a range of publications, from the New Scientist to the Listener and The Times Educational Supplement before going on to a career as a designer, art director and photographer, steering images for brands such as Vidal Sassoon and Aveda.

Says Greg: “In 2008 I sold my company in order to revisit painting, something I had been passionate about in the past, but had taken a back seat whilst mortgages and children came along.” Greg now works out of his studio in Exeter at Hope Hall, where he also runs Hope Hall Arts (www.hopehallarts.com). He hosts two major gallery exhibitions each year – combining with Art Week Exeter and Devon Open Studios, plus he teaches a variety of painting workshops to help budding artists hone their oil painting skills.

This year Greg will show his own work at the Wallace Collection in London, plus he’s been chosen by Saatchi Art for *The Other Art Fair* to be held in London next month. His next Devon show is scheduled to take place in April at the Tonic Gallery, Salcombe.

You can find out more about Greg and his work on his website:

www.gregorymason.com and don’t forget to tune in on March 7 to see how Greg gets on in the semi-final.

Portrait Artist of the Year returned to screens at the end of January - with the first episode now available* Sky Arts On Demand.*

This series sees more than 20 celebrity sitters for the competing heats. The first episode featured Stanley Tucci, Indira Varma and Freddie Highmore. In the subsequent weeks, viewers will see Richard E Grant, Sue Perkins, Rick Wakeman, Nina Sosanya, Phil Davis, Trevor Eve, Lesley Manville, Sian Phillips, Adrian Chiles, Katie Kissoon, Dave Myers, Raleigh Ritchie, Parminder Nagra, Ben Okri and James Norton.

The show’s final with Tom Courtney, will air on March 14. The Prize portrait commission for the winning artist was revealed on New Year’s Eve as television presenter and comedian Graham Norton.

Each of the celebrity sitters got to choose one of the finished portraits to keep for themselves – regardless of whether that artist went through to the next stage. According to previous artists, that’s the beauty of the show - that the ‘taking part’ has been life changing for their business and profile.

This is the third series of the show, which is produced by London and Glasgow-based independent production company Storyvault Films and is presented by TV personality and comedian Frank Skinner, alongside presenter and journalist Joan Bakewell - a leading figure in the arts for nearly six decades. The returning judges are artist Tai Shan Schierenberg and independent curator Kathleen Soriano and Art Historian Kate Bryan.

*Frank Skinner says: “**The relationship between a portrait artist and their subject is a very intimate one. I love being able to, along with the viewers, stick my nose in and watch the whole stress-filled process unfold.”*

*His co-presenter Joan Bakewell also commented: * *“Portrait Artist of the Year brings together some of the most talented painters with some of the most striking personalities. We see artists use brush, paint, pastels, charcoal to capture the elusive beauty of people whose faces we think we know. But art reveals more: and in each programme we watch it happen.”*

All six heats are filmed in the courtyard of The Wallace Collection in London’s Manchester Square, home to one of Europe’s finest art collections. The most recent winner was Christian Hook who was crowned ‘Portrait Artist of the Year 2015’ with his stunning portrait of Sir Ian McKellen.

Hundreds of entries were received for the 2017 competition, giving the judges the difficult task of whittling them down to just 54 artists (9 per heat). The winner of Portrait Artist the Year 2016 is awarded a £10,000 commission and £500 to spend on art materials at Cass Art.

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