Emily’s art gets Campbell in a spin

AN ASHTON artist has seen her work reach the corridors of power after it was picked out in a TV contest.

Emily Schofield found herself taking part in Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year competition – and create an artwork of former Government spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

And her work obviously went down well, as the Labour Party guru chose her work to hang on the walls of his home.

Former Ashton Sixth Form College student Emily, who grew up on Wilshaw Grove, also revealed her mum Julie received a thank you message from her subject.

Emily Schofield

The 20-year-old, who now studies at Leeds Art University, said: “The day was stressful and it was weird being there in real life on something I’d only seen on TV.

“It didn’t really feel real. I watch Portrait Artist of the Year on TV and to be honest, after I submitted my self-portrait, I’d forgotten I had because I was so long before.

“Then I got a phone call telling me I’d be on the show. So I was like, ‘What?’ I didn’t think anything would happen.

“But after Alastair picked me painting, he phoned my mum and left a voice message, which was nice and he sent me a nice email afterwards.

“I didn’t think he’d choose mine as he seemed to say a lot of nicer things about everyone else’s. So I was really shocked when he picked mine.”

Emily’s self portrait

Emily’s appearance on November 3 saw her compete with seven other painters for a place in the semi-finals.

And it was not just a case of getting out the paintbrushes – she also used a hairdryer after using acrylic with glue.

When she took an image of Campbell to get her likeness, he asked: “What did Michelangelo do before mobile phones?”

But it was in fact his use of devices that was noticed by the painters, with Emily – originally lined up to appear on the show last year before Covid-19 hit – adding: “He was always on his phone!

“But he was nice. To be honest, I didn’t know who he was!”

During her painting, which she had four hours to complete, she admitted: “There was quite a panic when I did the first eye but I added a few marks and I don’t hate it any more.”

On set and behind the easel

And her finished product clearly went down well, as Campbell picked it putting her in the final three of the heat at London’s Battersea Arts Centre.

Judge Kathleen Soriano said: “What she has flattered him with is gravitas. I prefer Emily’s over her submission.”

And artist Tai Shan Schierenberg added: “She’s a very mature artist for her age.”

After her TV experience, which she revealed took a lot longer than met the eye, Emily – who achieved grades of A*, A*, B in Fine Art, Graphic Design and Dance at Ashton Sixth Form – hopes it can have a beneficial effect on her future career plans.

The finished portrait of Alistair Campbell

The former Great academy pupil, who after her A-Levels progressed on to the Art Foundation Year course which prepares students for a career or degree in the creative industry – said after losing out in the final three to Lucy Threlfall: “It was a long day. We were there from probably 7am until 6pm.

There was a lot of waiting.

“But being on and being picked has given me more confidence. When you do art, you can do art yourself a lot, so getting to the top three against people who do it for a living was a big confidence boost.

“And my online shop is going OK. My mum looks after it while I’m at university. I hope to become a professional artist after my course. I’d like to go freelance – I like being my own boss!”

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