Portraiture workshop with Colin Davidson at the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk Exhibition

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On Monday 20th January 15 Suffolk One students took part in an exclusive Portrait Workshop with the world famous artist Colin Davidson. The workshop had been organised by Emma Connolly, John Sheeran and Ipswich Borough Council to run alongside the education programme written by Emma and John. Colin Davidson flew in especially from Belfast to support the workshop, giving students 1:1 support and guidance on their portraiture skills. 13 students from other local school and colleges were also invited to take part after being nominated by their art teachers.

The day started at Christchurch Mansion at the Made in Suffolk: Ed Sheeran exhibition with an exclusive guided tour by John Sheeran Ed's dad and curator of the exhibition. After this, Colin Davidson gave a talk about his own practice and discussed the portraits of Ed that he had been commission to do. One of these portraits hangs in the prestigious National Portrait Gallery in London. Following the talks, Emma Connolly (Course Leader of L4 Art Foundation at One), ran portraiture workshops, exploring skills and techniques with the support of Colin.

The afternoon continued at One with an oil painting workshop. Colin Davidson spoke to the group about how he applies paint to his canvases and how he composes a portrait. Each student was able to explore an oil portrait painting themselves, with the support of Colin and Emma.

Background of Colin Davidson:
Colin Davidson is a contemporary artist, living and working near Belfast, Northern Ireland. Since graduating in 1991 from the University of Ulster with a first-class honours degree, he has structured his practice in themes, and since 2010 his focus has been on painting grand scale portraits, which have won widespread recognition and many international awards. As well as numerous commissions, Davidson's portrait sitters have included Brad Pitt, Ed Sheeran, Liam Neeson, Brian Friel, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Dame Mary Peters, Gary Lightbody, Marketa Irglova, Glen Hansard, Mark Knopfler and Seamus Heaney. His work is held in many public and corporate collections worldwide, including Queen's University Belfast, the Ulster Museum (Belfast), Standard Life (London), the National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin), the Standard Chartered Bank of Asia, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington DC) and the National Portrait Gallery, (London). Davidson's recent exhibition of portrait paintings, entitled 'Silent Testimony', reveals the stories of eighteen people who are connected by their individual experiences of loss through the Troubles - a turbulent 30-year period in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s onwards. This critically acclaimed body of work was on show at the Ulster Museum Belfast during 2015, before embarking on a tour which included the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, Dublin Castle and the United Nations NYC. In December 2015 he was commissioned by TIME Magazine to paint the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, for the cover for its 'Person of the Year' issue. In 2016 Colin Davidson was invited to paint an official portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and has also produced an official portrait of President Bill Clinton. 

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