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Celebrity buys work by Stamford artist Michelle Fernandes after Portrait Artist of the Year filming for Sky Arts TV show



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A Stamford artist, who returned to painting to help cope with personal loss, is set to have her work showcased on the small screen.

Michelle Fernandes, better known as Meesh, was selected from thousands of entries to take paint in the new series of Sky TV's Portrait Artist of the Year.

While scheduling had not been confirmed at the time of going to press, Meesh believes she will feature in the opening episode, to be broadcast on the Sky Arts channel, next Wednesday (October 13).

Meesh (middle) with Yvette Diaz-Munoz (left) of Stamford Anti Racism Group, Jo Kemp, of the Blonde Beet, and the portrait which earned her a place on the popular Sky show
Meesh (middle) with Yvette Diaz-Munoz (left) of Stamford Anti Racism Group, Jo Kemp, of the Blonde Beet, and the portrait which earned her a place on the popular Sky show

Each of the eight heats features nine artists, with the winners going through to the semi-final.

Meesh was not allowed to reveal which celebrity sat for her heat, filmed in London in April, but they were suitably impressed with her finished work.

"The celebrity got in touch after the show and bought it which was amazing," she said.

Michelle likes to weave abstract elements into her portraits
Michelle likes to weave abstract elements into her portraits

"I'm always over-critical of my own work and feel I could have done it better, but it's hard."

The show did not come without its pressures.

"It was very overwhelming," Meesh explained.

Michelle injects colour to express movement and emotion
Michelle injects colour to express movement and emotion

"You have four hours to do a portrait in front of the cameras while you are being called out to do interviews and talk to the hosts.

"It was a real whirlwind, but a brilliant experience."

Her work has since won more admirers, with another portrait accepted for the Figurative Art Now exhibition at the Mall Galleries, in London.

Meesh also works with still life - this piece relates to her lockdown reflections
Meesh also works with still life - this piece relates to her lockdown reflections

"That was quite mind-blowing because that is a big platform really," she added.

Meesh largely left the art world behind after studying to foundation level, and went on to forge a career as an educational welfare officer.

But life was turned upside down for Meesh in 2018 when she lost her wife to suicide.

Michelle's debut Stamford exhibition
Michelle's debut Stamford exhibition

This led her back to art, a career change, and ultimately a new start in Stamford the following year.

"It triggered a massive change in my life because it made me reflect on what I wanted to do," she explained.

"I came back to art and creativity as a therapeutic process.

"Then we went into lockdown and having all that time to reflect and to paint, it really became something."

Stamford art lovers will be able to see her work in town for the first time when a three-week exhibition of her work opens at The Blonde Beet.

A preview evening will be held in the St Paul's Street cafe and bistro on Sunday, October 17, from 5pm to 7pm, when Meesh will talk about her work.

The ticket price of £12 includes a free drink, homemade snacks and a donation to the Stamford Anti-Racism Group. Tickets are available here.

Meesh now fits her art around a part-time job as registrar in Peterborough, and despite the growing recognition, her art remains chiefly for pleasure. For now at least.

"Being a registrar is a job I'm really passionate about, helping people going through trauma because I know a little bit about that," she said.

"It's an honour to help people going through significant times in their life.

"I paint in my days off and evenings and it's a great balance.

"I would like to move on possibly into commissions, but I'm quite cautious about doing that solely, because it might affect my creativity."



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