Kelvin Okafor, Caroline Pool and Christy Lee Rogers feature in new portraiture series from Tinie (Tempah)

The BBC series Extraordinary Portraits reframes an art historically “reserved for ‘high society’” into something more inclusive.

Date
28 February 2022

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A new series presented by Tinie (formerly Tinie Tempah) launched yesterday on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, exploring the art of portrait making. Entitled Extraordinary Portraits, the series sees “everyday heroes” from the general public “immortalised in art”, explains a release from the BBC. Over the course of six episodes, the work of six artists will be featured, capturing the portrait process through different mediums from underwater photography to street art.

Artists featured in Extraordinary Portraits include: Roxana Halls, known for challenging how the depiction of women in art; the portrait painter behind Portraits For NHS Heroes, Thomas Croft; photographer Christy Lee Rogers, who will be creating a portrait via an underwater photoshoot; and famed hyperrealistic artist Kelvin Okafor, whose pencil portrait for the series took 650 hours to complete. In episode three, Dale Grimshaw, an artist who creates street murals with a fine art approach, works on a piece for sitter Patrick Hutchinson, a personal trainer from South London who was photographed carrying an injured English Defence League member to safety during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in 2020.

Elsewhere in episode four, hyperrealistic portrait artist, Caroline Pool paints Alec Burrough, an 88 year-old dairy farmer from Devon who refuses to slow down. “Despite having worked on the farm for 70 years, Alec continues to get up at dawn to care for his cows and ride his tractor,” says the release.

Tinie says: “I wanted to put a spotlight on contemporary British heroes; to hear their stories and help create an opportunity where the world can learn about them and their experience through art. Portraits are powerful, and a great way of achieving this, but historically they have been reserved for ‘high society’. When a portrait of mine went into the National Portrait Gallery, I remember the immense pride, inclusion and acknowledgement I felt... I hope the extraordinary people I have met making Extraordinary Portraits feel the same way.”

Aiming to reframe the exclusivity of traditional portraiture, the series not only makes the art form feel more accessible, by inviting audiences to explore the process involved in such works, it also shifts the narrative behind it. “Portraiture has traditionally been a way of commemorating the figures we think of as significant or powerful”, says Suzy Klein, head of BBC Arts. “What makes Extraordinary Portraits different is that we shift the focus to everyday heroes… who we feel deserve to be celebrated.”

The first episode of Extraordinary Portraits is currently available on BBC iPlayer; episode two will launch Sunday 6 March at 6:30 PM.

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BBC One: Extraordinary Portraits, Roxana Hall & Twins Melissa & Georgia, photography by Peter Coventry (Copyright © BBC / Chatterbox / Peter Coventry, 2022)

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BBC One: Extraordinary Portraits, Christy Lee Rogers & Cee Cee, photography by Robert Douglas (Copyright © BBC / Chatterbox / Robert Douglas, 2022)

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BBC One: Extraordinary Portraits, Roxana Hall & Twins Melissa & Georgia, photography by Peter Coventry (Copyright © BBC / Chatterbox / Peter Coventry, 2022)

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BBC One: Extraordinary Portraits, photography by Peter Coventry (Copyright © BBC / Chatterbox / Peter Coventry, 2022)

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BBC One: Extraordinary Portraits, photography by Peter Coventry (Copyright © BBC / Chatterbox / Peter Coventry, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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