A brush with success!

A remarkable number crowded St Paul’s on 23 March for the Worthing Portrait Artist of the Year competition, delighting the organisers and possibly unnerving the 15 local artists taking part.

The event began at 4.45pm, the audience agog to see who the sitters would be: three locally sourced characters, of depth and variety, took up their poses, and braced themselves to keep still for five hours.

The artists were in place, five round each sitter. Ready! Steady! Paint!

They mostly got stuck in straight away – squeezing out slugs of colour, wielding their brushes, marking their surfaces. The audience moved around, watching the magic begin; here an artist slashing great bands of colour across a large canvas; there another, stroking a form gently into life with soft pencil lines; and there, one not started yet, staring at the sitter and gauging his first move.

The fun was in the variety, the novelty, the craic, and the magnificent new bar. The five hours whizzed by. ‘Put your brushes down and step away.’ The judges circulated and conferred solemnly. The crowd was talking of wagers and favourites. Some people had come to support friends or family. Some people had never been in St Paul’s before. ‘What a great place!’, they cried. ’We never knew it was here!’

The judges announced the three finalists; Frank Ferrie, Wendy Barratt, and Steve Mort-Hill. Steve won. Everyone cheered. The prize was £500, given by a local charity Faith through Action, in memory of Bernard Lord. Seawhites donated artists materials for the runners up. Cellar Arts Club supported the event, and the judges were David McAdam Freud, Heather Williamson and your correspondent. The valiant sitters were Dick Douglass, Nic Naish and Thomas H Green.

Heather Williamson and Cathy Verney led for the St Paul’s team, who declared the event a great night out.

Sharpen your pencils – they are going to do it again next year!

Hazel Imbert