Portsmouth lecturer helps to paint Mona Lisa for giant mosaic

SMILING The giant Mona Lisa moasic on display on Clapham Common 'in London
SMILING The giant Mona Lisa moasic on display on Clapham Common 'in London

College in running for top national awards

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A PORTSMOUTH portrait artist has contributed to the largest ever artwork and easel to be displayed in the UK.

Dr Trudy Barber is one of 84 shortlisted entrants to Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year competition.

Dr Trudy Barber

Dr Trudy Barber

Each of the shortlisted artists submitted a self portrait, which were then used to create a giant mosaic of the Mona Lisa which was unveiled in London’s Clapham Common.

Dr Barber, 54, is an art lecturer at the University of Portsmouth and said she was shocked when she found out she was shortlisted.

‘I just thought I would do it for a bit of fun,’ she said.

‘I never believed in a million years that I would be shortlisted.

‘When I got the phone call I nearly choked on my sandwich. It was a total shock.’

Dr Barber went to Glasgow to take part in a regional heat at an art festival there.

She said: ‘It was the most amazing amount of pressure I have ever been under.

‘I can go to a lecture here and lecture loads of students but being a part of this experience and being under this pressure was totally different.

‘I’m just gobsmacked. I have only just seen the picture. It’s very creative.’

The artwork which is positioned on an easel measuring 14m high, was created using 84 individual self-portraits.

Positioned in Clapham Common in London, the easel took a team over two months to design and construct.

The montage is 85 times bigger than the original portrait which hangs in the Louvre in Paris.

The complete structure measures seven metres by five and weighs three tonnes.

Dr Barber said she hopes it will inspire people to take art seriously.

‘We tend to equate art with something that’s supposed to be a hobby or something children do,’ she said.

‘For me, it’s my whole life.

‘The artists need to be taken more seriously. We have had funding withdrawn from arts councils.

‘We really need to take value in some of the most brilliant artists that we have in this country and engage more with creative practice.’

Following a series of further challenges, one overall finalist will win a commission from the British Library to paint Hilary Mantel for their permanent collection.

All four finalists will see their work displayed in the National Portrait Gallery.