Interview with an artist - portrait painter Andrew Hunt

Andrew Hunt's exhibition ‘Portraits from the Market’ will be open in our gallery later this month so we thought it would be nice to introduce him to you all and ask a few questions about the work. We're really excited to see these paintings come together ready for the opening on 17th May. Don’t forget you can still book your free ticket for the open evening which is going to be held on Thursday 24th May - register here.

For those that don't yet know about this show - Andrew has painted several huge hyper-real portraits of visitors to the Moor Markets, and these will be displayed alongside 50 of Chris Saunders' portrait photographs. The pictures were taken one day last summer when Chris and Andrew set up an impromptu photo booth in a vacant market stall. Visitors and staff alike sat for photos and the results document and celebrate the diverse community who use the markets on a daily basis.

The exhibition will be open in our gallery from 17th May – 24th June. Andrew will be using the gallery as a live studio for the duration of the show so do come down during our new opening hours and see these paintings as they reach completion. Gallery open Thursdays 11am-7pm, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays 11am-4pm.

“I walk through the Moor Markets in Sheffield nearly every day. I’ve always enjoyed the sense of community and diversty this central hub of the city provides, it’s a bustling market place where people from many of Sheffield’s communities gather to meet, shop and eat.”

Can you describe your work to someone who may not be familiar with it?

This project involves series of large scale realistic painted portraits. After inviting patrons and stall holders from Sheffield’s Moor markets to sit for their photographic portrait I have selected a number of subjects to paint, some of which will be completed during the course of the show. The idea is to attract new audiences to the work and celebrate a community of people.

How did you decide which of the 50 photo portraits you would paint?

I wanted to cover a cross section of the participants and try and reflect the different ages, gender and the diversity of the patrons of the market.

How long has it taken you to complete each of the portraits?

It is an entirely new way of working, so to begin with the first paintings took about three months as I learned how to develop the technique. I work on a number of pieces concurrently so it is hard to quantify how long each painting constitutes, but four weeks is a good guess.

Are you looking forward to painting in a live gallery setting rather than in your studio?

Absolutely it will help me focus and give me the opportunity to talk about my work.

We know you usually show your work in London galleries, how does it feel for this to be showing in your home city of Sheffield?

It feels great to be outside my bubble, I seldom meet my clients face to face, so it will be interesting to see the public reaction to my creations.

Do you feel Sheffield is a good place to be an artist?

Sheffield is a great place in general. Yorkshire Artspace is a fantastic institution and there is a good growing art vibe about this city. There is a strong sense of community here and I can’t ignore the draw of bucolic Pennine England.

Who inspires you?

In terms of art then there are a many number of painters from all over the world whose work I find inspirational. This project was inspired by the early Chuck Close stuff, I was drawn to the choice of subject as much as the technique. A lot of contemporary realist painting can be a little anodyne as regards subject matter but there are a number of artists ‘pushing the boat out’ and doing some exciting stuff.

What’s the next project on your horizon for you?

I’ve got a few commissions stacked up but I would like to work with Chris Saunders again, it would be interesting to explore this method a little more.

This exhibition was supported by Sheffield Culture Consortium through Making Ways, Funded via Arts Council England Ambition for Excellence.

Funders and supporters