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NEWS > Alumnae News > LEH Alumna on Portrait Artist of the Year

LEH Alumna on Portrait Artist of the Year

Talented up and coming artist Gabriela Cohen, Class of 2016, is appearing on this week's edition of Portrait Artist of the Year on Sky Arts on Wednesday 17 November at 8pm.

The multidisciplinary artist was selected for the competition, which is presented by Stephen Mangan and Joan Bakewell, after submitting this striking self portrait painted in oil on canvas. The celebrity sitter Gabriela had to paint was space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

Gabriela says: “Taking part in Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2021 was such a wonderful opportunity. It was an experience I’ll treasure forever. Maggie Aderin-Pocock was so warm and friendly and a pleasure to paint. I wish I’d had more time to talk to her about the moon and her profession.”

Filming took place at Battersea Arts Centre back in April, shortly after lockdown, and Gabriela says that made it feel a bit surreal initially: “It was great to be surrounded by all these incredibly talented artists. It was absolutely the best way to be reintroduced to the world. At first it was difficult to get started while feeling so observed but as the time ticked on, I quickly got into the painting zone and managed to adjust to all the cameras and people. Ultimately it was so inspiring to be around so much creativity.”

In this sixth heat, nine artists are challenged to create a portrait of one of three celebrities: historian and presenter David Olosuga, space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock and ballet star, actor and model Sergei Polunin.

To reach the semi-final artists will need to impress judges Kathleen Soriano, Tai Shan Schierenberg and Kate Bryan. Those who make it to the final will be within touching distance of a £10,000 prize commission to paint internationally renowned violinist, Nicola Benedetti, for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

After leaving LEH, Gabriela did a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at the Arts University Bournemouth, and went on to achieve first class honours for her BA in Fine Art there in 2020. She is currently working as a freelance digital content creator/ graphic designer, with a year-long residency at spudWORKs, an artist community based in the New Forest.

Her artistic process is a unique combination of polaroid photography, digital art and oil painting. Gabriela says: “I think Polaroid’s bring a soft romanticism to an image, combined with digital editing to manipulate the colours of my reference image the paintings often come out as if they are from a parallel world.” 

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for her! Portrait Artist of the Year is on Wednesday 17 November, at 8pm, on the Sky Arts channel which is available on Freeview and NowTV. 

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