Artist Ania Hobson is a picture of happiness as her self portrait makes National Portrait Gallery show

Rising artist Ania Hobson with her self-portrait which has been accepted for the BP Portrait Awards

Rising artist Ania Hobson with her self-portrait which has been accepted for the BP Portrait Awards and is on display at the National Portrait Gallery. Picture: ANIA HOBSON - Credit: Archant

East Anglian portrait artist Ania Hobson has received a fantastic career boost by being selected to exhibit as part of the BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery. Arts editor Andrew Clarke caught up with her as she moves into her new studio.

Portrait artist Ania Hobson working on a portrait

Portrait artist Ania Hobson working on a portrait - Credit: Archant

Rising East Anglian portrait artist Ania Hobson is currently “living the dream” having had a self-portrait selected to form part of the prestigious BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The 27 year old artist, based in north Suffolk, is just one of 25 artists from the UK to have been selected for the exhibition and one of just 53 artists in the exhibition.

Speaking from her small studio, crammed with finished and half-finished works, she said: “I can’t really believe it. It’s a dream come true. My boyfriend and I were visiting last year’s BP Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and he whispered in my ear: ‘Imagine having one of your pictures in here’ and now I have. You could say I am living the dream. I never thought it would happen. When I got that email, telling me I had been selected, I was stunned. I spent the morning laughing, it seemed unreal.”

A graduate of the University of Suffolk’s Fine Art degree, Ania had to compete against work from 2,580 artists from around the world to make the final exhibition.

Rising artist Ania Hobson with her portrait of local artist Chris Newson at her Suffolk studio. Pict

Rising artist Ania Hobson with her portrait of local artist Chris Newson at her Suffolk studio. Picture: ANDREW CLARKE - Credit: Archant


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Last year she came within a whisker of making the exhibition. “I submitted a portrait of my brother Thom and was pre-selected but didn’t make the final cut for the exhibition, this year I have, so things are moving in the right direction.”

She started her career as a wildlife painter, and one of her first successes was being preselected for the Society of Wildlife painters exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.

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But this early success came at a price because the event clashed with an opportunity to compete in Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year competition which she had also been selected for. “I spoke to the Sky Arts and the dates just clashed and they said that I had to choose, so I opted for the Mall Galleries because I really wanted them on my CV.

“The good news is that I can reapply for the next series of Sky’s Portrait Artist of the Year and hopefully get selected again.”

For the moment her priority is to focus on her work, keep painting and build up a good reputation in the art world and the best way of doing that is by exhibiting paintings. She contributing to the Art for Cure show in Aldeburgh at the beginning of June which raises money for breast cancer research and her portrait of fellow Suffolk artist Chris Newson is being loaned to the artist to appear in an exhibition of his own.

In addition to being shown as part of the BP Painting Awards exhibition, Ania has been selected to contribute work to Royal Society of British Painters 2017, Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2016 and

Society of Women Artists 2015.

“Life is very busy at the moment and that’s how I like it. Getting selected for the BP awards gives a wonderful sense of motivation to really keep at it, keep pushing to do things better.

“It has reaffirmed in my mind that this is what I want to do. It’s what I need to do and having moved into this new studio, it’s given me my own space to work but as it is a part of a larger studio complex then there are other artists you can talk to. You are not completely on your own.”

Ania has recently moved into a space at Asylum studios on the former RAF Bentwaters airbase near Woodbridge. Although, in the past, she has liked to vary her subjects mixing portraiture with animal studies, now her sights are firmly fixed on portraits.

“I work to commission, I also do pictures of family and friends. It’s not just a question of getting a physical likeness but I try and capture sense of their personality too. I want to capture who they are as people which is why I tend to talk to them while I paint or draw them.”

Ania says that she prefers to work from life, often using a long piece of charcoal attached to a long stick, so she can literally work at arms length. “It gives you a sense of perspective. You can see the whole image and don’t get buried in the detail. I like the fact you can get a sense of a person in just a few telling marks.”

In addition to doing lots of drawings – “to really get to know” her subject – she also takes plenty of photos to add extra bits of detail or added reference material for when the subject is not present.

Ania’s work will be on display at London’s National Portrait Gallery from June 22- September 24 2017.

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