MEET SKY ARTS’ ‘PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR’

Christabel Blackburn in her studio
Christabel Blackburn in her studio

Christabel Blackburn has designed a pandemic-inspired T-shirt to benefit Create, with 50% of the proceeds going to support our work. Here she explains why she is supporting us – and the importance of creativity in her life.

“I think we’re all agreed that creativity has been the answer to getting us through this pandemic,” says Christabel Blackburn, the recent winner of Sky Arts’ ‘Portrait Artist of the Year’ competition. “No matter what is going on outside, if you are creative you can always go within to find ways to get inspired.”

Blackburn, who beat more than 70 competitors and thousands of applicants to win the competition, is a firm believer in the power of creativity and its ability to help us navigate our way through difficult times.

“I have two kids,” she says, “and my husband and I have both been working from home, so coming up with fresh ways to keep them occupied was a challenge: music and arts activities always trump playing with toys. For me, being able to escape to my studio from time to time was the tonic I needed to be able to cope with those challenges.”

Lockdown drawings

Blackburn has been busy since winning the ‘Portrait Artist of the Year’ competition back in March. As part of her prize, she travelled to Connecticut to paint a portrait of musician Nile Rodgers, which will go on display in the Royal Albert Hall. She has also been creating pieces inspired by the pandemic and our lives under lockdown.

CHRISTABEL BLACKBURN Social Distancing tshirtA collection of ‘social distancing’ drawings, created for an initiative called the Artist Support Pledge, all sold out within two hours of going live on her website. Blackburn has now decided to turn her favourite of those images, entitled Social Distancing outside a Post Office, into a T-shirt (pictured). She is selling this via her website, with 50% of the proceeds going to support our work.

“While we’ve all found lockdown challenging, I wanted to find a charity that could help disadvantaged and vulnerable adults and children in isolation,” she says. “I read about your Create Live! Zoom workshops with professional artists and support for older people in isolation, and knew I wanted to be a part of it.

“I have always felt passionately that the arts have the ability to heal and inspire. I hope that people will see this as a way to raise money for Create and an opportunity to buy a screen-printed artwork more affordably. While we’ve all found lockdown challenging, I wanted to find a charity that could help disadvantaged and vulnerable adults and children in isolation. I feel so lucky to have discovered this inspirational charity and hope I’ll be able to do more to support you in the future.”

Only 500 T-shirts have been produced in the initial run, priced at £25 each, so you’ll have to act fast to get your hands on one. The T-shirts are available on Blackburn’s website

Nicky Goulder, our CEO said: “We are delighted and excited to have this support from Christabel. The money that she raises through sales of her impactful, topical T-shirt will enable us to empower the lives of some of society’s most isolated children and adults at a time when they deserve our support more than ever. Christabel’s work captures the loneliness so many of us have felt during the pandemic, and her support of our participant groups in this way is a perfect synergy. The Portrait Artist of the Year competition had me on the edge of my seat. That the incredible winner approached us to offer her support will inspire and delight our participants.”

Christabel Blackburn in her studio

Click here to visit Christabel Blackburn’s website.

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