A giant canvas of the Mona Lisa has been installed on Clapham Common in central London following a national poll which named the Leonardo Da Vinci classic as the nation’s favourite portrait of all time. The artwork, which is positioned on an easel measuring a staggering fourteen metres high - double the height of an average two storey house, was commissioned to mark the launch of Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year competition, which begins on Sky Arts 1 HD on Tuesday 5 November.
The Mona Lisa portrait was created using 84 of the individual self-portraits submitted by the shortlisted entrants to the national competition. Brighton based multi-media artist Quentin Devine spent a week incorporating each individual portrait into the Mona Lisa Mosaic replicating the portraits into 1,000 individual pixels to create the Mona Lisa illusion. The giant artwork marks the first time the portraits have been displayed together.
Positioned in the middle of the common, the easel took a team of fabricators over two months to design and construct. The montage of portraits was printed onto specially designed, wind breathable canvas and measures 5 metres by 7 metres – 85 times bigger than the original portrait which hangs in the Louvre. The complete structure which weighs three tonnes is weighed down by an additional twelve tonnes of ballast to ensure stability.
Quentin Devine, who devised the giant artwork, said: "Updating Da Vinci's masterpiece to a 21st century digital piece of art has been one of the largest scale digital art projects I've worked on in my 13 years of being a Multimedia artist. It was a great challenge to combine the rich talents of the portrait artists competing for the accolade of Sky Arts Portrait of the Year."
Sky Arts traveled across the UK and Ireland over the summer in search of a talented new artist who will be crowned Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year. Hosted by Joan Bakewell and Frank Skinner, and under the watchful eye of three judges – Kathleen Soriano, Director of Exhibitions at the Royal Academy, Kate Bryan, Head of Contemporary at the Fine Art Society and portrait artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg - four regional heats were held at art festivals in London, Glasgow, Dublin and Cardiff to find a finalist from each area.
Following a series of further challenges, including a trip to Paris to paint Sophie Dahl, one overall finalist will win a commission from the British Library to paint Hilary Mantel for their permanent collection. All four finalists will see their work displayed in the National Portrait Gallery.