Illustration graduate competes in Landscape Artist of the Year
Julia Burley, graduate of Plymouth College of Art’s BA (Hons) Illustration course, is competing in this year’s Landscape Artist of the Year series on Sky Arts.
Aired on Wednesday 13 January 2021, the first episode saw artists, including Julia, head to Chartwell House, home to Winston Churchill for over 40 years, to compete to win a £10,000 commission for a major British institution, as well as £500 worth of art materials and the honour of being crowned the nation’s best landscape artist.
22-year-old Julia said: “I applied for Landscape Artist of the Year during my final year at Plymouth College of Art, using a drawing in one of my rough sketchbooks. It was an imaginary landscape, drawn from different pictures of tree species I was researching for my project on endangered birds of paradise. I had applied a few times before so I had not expected to get very far, but found out I had a place as a contestant a few months later!”
Artist of the Year is a television programme by Sky Arts, currently hosted by UK TV personalities Stephen Mangan and Joan Blackwell, which aims to find the best portrait and landscape painters in the UK. Judged by curator and arts broadcaster Kate Bryan, head of contemporary art at the Fine Art Society, Kathleen Soriano, director of exhibitions at the Royal Academy, and portrait and landscape painter Tai-Shan Schierenberg, the UK professional and amateur artists are challenged to produce landscapes of different locations each week, with the final filmed and hosted by the National Portrait Gallery.
Julia said, “The experience was definitely one of the hardest artistic challenges I’ve ever had to face. The time limit and pressure of being watched by a crowd was very stressful at times and quite daunting at first, but I had a great time filming on the show and I really enjoyed myself. I particularly liked being able to talk to the other contestants, it was so fascinating to see how differently we all perceived the same view. It was an experience I won’t find anywhere else - I feel so glad to have had this opportunity and the challenge. If it’s possible, I feel even more nervous to watch it back than I was during filming!”
Describing herself as a naturalist, Julia, originally from Oxfordshire, finds most of her inspiration in nature. “So much of my work surrounds the themes of botany, zoology and landscape, being most inspired by natural history illustration. I use traditional mediums such as charcoal and colour pencil to produce authentic portraits of nature.”
“The illustration course at Plymouth College of Art was a great chance for me to find the subject matters and mediums that suited me. Experimentation was encouraged. I was able to specialise in wildlife and landscape and have had many opportunities to explore these themes in my work. As a result of this, and the show, I’ve got some exciting opportunities coming up, including some illustration classes at local schools and even some encyclopaedia illustration!”
Subject Leader on BA (Hons) Illustration, Sam Rowe said: “Julia couldn't have been more suited to this! Considering her self-initiated technical drawing classes for her peers, while she was at Plymouth College of Art, and her aptitude for expressive realism, it feels like a natural progression that she'd be on television doing just that. We're very proud and excited for her and it's especially lovely to hear how many exciting new opportunities this has led to.”
You can see Julia on Landscape Artist of the Year on Sky Arts and keep up to date with her illustrations via Instagram @juliarocciaart. Budding landscape artists can now apply for Landscape Artist of the Year Series 7, with a deadline date of 30 April 2021, at noon. Get your submissions in on the Sky Arts Artist of the Year website.