Welcome to Post 16

A* pupil appears on Sky Arts' Portrait Artist of the Year

A former pupil entered a fine art competition which was televised on Sky Arts. Palanivel Kumaravel, 19, left the Academy with an A* in A Level Art and is well known at the Academy for his amazing photorealistic sketches. Portrait Artist of the Year, presented by Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell, aims to find the best portrait artist in the UK and Ireland. There is a £10,000 prize at the end for the winner. Palanivel, who featured on episode 8 (aired on Sky Arts on 6th March 2018), told us about his experience on the show.

  1. What are you currently studying and where?

    I’m studying a Foundation degree in Fine Art at Kensington and Chelsea College. I will go to Camberwell College of Arts which is based at UAL to study BA Drawing after completing my foundation degree.
  2. What made you want to enter the competition and how did you end up getting through to the televised round?

    I have been watching Portrait Artist of the Year for a few years. I love portraiture and Portrait Artist of the Year is the only programme which celebrates portraits. I also love Tai-Shan Schierenberg’s work (one of the judges on the programme). I had to upload a self-portrait, the judges then look through the entries and select the work that they like and then visit you at your house to collect any work that they would like to be displayed at an exhibition.
    Alec Reed Academy pupil on Sky Art's Portrait Artist of the Year
    The sketch that won Palanivel a chance to be on the talent show
    Frank Skinner and the judges appreciating Palanivel's work

  3. Were you the youngest there?

    There are ten different heats, all featuring nine artists. I was the youngest in my heat but in the whole competition, I was probably the second or third youngest.
  4. Who did you draw?

    I drew Sir Derek Jacobi, a famous British classical actor. You are given four hours to draw your subject. At the end, the person you are drawing selects two portraits of themselves that they like the most. I’m elated that Derek chose mine! Knowing that an actor whose work I admire chose my work is what matters the most to me rather than appearing on television.
    Palanivel's sketch of Derek Jacobi

  5. What did Derek say about your work?

    When Derek was explaining why he chose my work he mentioned to the judges that I captured his essence perfectly. I wanted the fact that he is an actor to be portrayed in the portrait so I made the background bright to symbolise a spotlight. Aside from that, my work was advertised on the banner advertising the competition outside The Wallace Collection Gallery, where the competition was filmed.
    Derek Jacobi had high praise for Palanivel's work

  6. How far did you get in the competition?

    I made it to the first of three rounds in the competition. I enjoyed my experience; it was different to anything I had experienced, the schedule was very hectic. I got to meet professional artists such as Tom Croft and Francis Bell who gave me an insight into what it would be like to be a professional artist; I am still in touch with them. The Wallace Collection Gallery displays artwork from the 18th and 19th century, I feel honoured to have been invited there for the competition.
    Palanivel, 2nd from right, with fellow artists in the heat


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