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Portrait Artist of the Year

Monday 5 January 2015


The Royal College of Music has commissioned a portrait of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as part of the Sky Arts TV series Portrait Artist of the Year.

Legendary soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is a close friend of the RCM, who regularly works with RCM singers as Visiting Professor. She also offers vital financial and mentoring support to talented RCM singers through her Foundation. Dame Kiri’s portrait (pictured) was painted by artist Laura Quinn, one of three finalists in the competition, and will hang in the foyer of the Britten Theatre, the home of the RCM’s International Opera School.

The final episode of the Sky Arts series (broadcast on 23 December 2014) shows Dame Kiri performing in the Britten Theatre, before being painted on the stage by Laura. Also featured are interviews with Director of the RCM Colin Lawson and RCM Director of Opera Michael Rosewell, as well as Dame Kiri’s close friend and fellow singer Kathryn Harries.

The finished portrait was unveiled to Dame Kiri, Colin Lawson, Michael Rosewell and presenter Joan Bakewell at the National Portrait Gallery two weeks later. Dame Kiri was thrilled with the results, declaring the painting to be ‘very special’.

Now in its second series, Portrait Artist of the Year is a search across the UK and Ireland for a new star of the art world, whether amateur, professional or hobbyist. The competitors painted famous sitters in six regional heats in London, Dublin, Edinburgh and Cardiff, and were judged by a prestigious panel of art experts.

The portrait will join the RCM’s internationally significant collection of more than 100 paintings later this spring.