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Local artist featured in portrait artist of the year competition

Ġulja Holland

Exciting! Maltese artist Ġulja Holland was featured on an episode of Portrait Artist of the Year, on SKY TV, a British competition on the search for the best portrait painter in the land. By means of several rounds of regional competitions throughout the United Kingdom, the programme effectively shortlists portrait painters at the end of each episode, eventually crowning the top portrait painter of the year.

Ġulja featured in the 8th episode if the currently airing 7th season. She painted a portrait of acclaimed British actor Kwame-Armah in the space of four hours. She was shortlisted as one of the three artists at the end of the episode.

When she was approached by one of the judges in the show named Tai Shan Schierenberg, Ġulja was questioned about her use of a black and white image for reference. Ġulja responded by saying that she tends to gravitate towards expression in painting and colour is more of a ‘psychological mood’. She then settled on quasi-monochrome colours, decided that she was ‘feeling green’ and opted to use it as the background.

As a reaction to the finished work, judge Kathleen Soriano said that “the fact that Ġulja does everything on her own terms marks her out as a true artist. Not only has she changed the colours, but she has introduced all sorts of elements that were not there in reality.”

“A lot of what [Ġulja] does is about suggestion not definition” and there are elements that are not necessarily correct but definitely “keep us engaged with it.”

The young artist is currently reading for a Masters in Painting at the Royal College of Art in London and describes herself as an expressionistic painter.