If you’re not a regular viewer of Sky Arts’ “Artist of the Year” competition — and you’re probably not, because it’s a UK network only — you will not have heard of “Artist of the Year.”
Since 2013, it’s been an opportunity for professional and amateur artists around Britain to find the best portrait or landscape artist.
After several rounds of regional competitions, the finals are filmed at the National Portrait Gallery. Judges are prestigious artists.
The winner receives a £10,000 commission to paint a famous personality.
And the 2020 winner is: Christabel Blackburn!
Yeah, yeah, I don’t know her either.
But — and here’s the “06880/Where Westport meets the World” hook — the London artist was commissioned to do a painting of Nile Rodgers.
Which is why she was flown here, and painted the guitarist/singer-songwriter/ record producer/arranger/composer/former Chic frontman at his Saugatuck Shores home.
“Taking part in Portrait Artist Of The Year has been one of the most fun and crazy experiences of my life,” Blackburn told the Aberdeen Evening Express.
“I met some amazing people, and above all it has done wonders for my confidence. I never thought I would be able to paint under that kind of pressure, and to win it, well that’s just pretty mind-boggling.
“I’m so excited to see where it now takes me.”
Well: It took her to Westport. And now — thanks to Christabel Blackburn — our neighbor hangs in the Royal Albert Hall.
(Sure, this is a pretty random story. I learned about it from Vince Kelly. Most Westporters know him through his long involvement in local baseball. But his parents were from Liverpool, and family members still live there. His aunt sent him the news about Nile, which he forwarded to me. To read the full Evening Express story, click here.)