Richard is a Barnsley-based artist whose work is primarily concerned with, but not confined to, portraiture and the human figure. Richard’s new painting is a portrait of poet, journalist, playwright, and broadcaster Ian McMillan.
Ian McMillan, also known as the Bard of Barnsley, is one of the UK’s best-known contemporary poets. Richard met Ian through a community workshop they were both involved in. Richard suggested the idea of painting his portrait, to which Ian agreed.
Richard said: “It’s rare that I paint anyone with a public profile, so when I met Ian, I wanted to create something that celebrates Ian’s contribution to local culture. It’s been a pleasure working with him, and an enjoyable experience.”
“Needless to say I was very chuffed when I found out that the trustees of the Cooper Gallery wanted to buy my portrait of Ian after it went on display at Barnsley library. During the pandemic I was selected to paint a portrait of the head of the trustees for the collection so to have a second painting join it is a real honour. It is also a testament to Ian's contribution to the local culture in Barnsley and his wider literary and broadcasting work which I imagine must have motivated the trustees to buy the portrait for his hometown. I must also thank the former group leader of heritage and arts for Barnsley MBC Lynn Dunning for her efforts in promoting the portrait to the trustees. Having just started on the MA fine art course at Leeds Arts University I am really enjoying reflecting on my practice whilst developing the professional aspect of it too.”
The completed portrait was unveiled at Library @ the Lightbox on the eve of National Poetry Day, as part of Barnsley Libraries ‘Library Lates’ programme. The unveiling was made extra special because it was the first time Ian had seen the finished portrait of himself.
“It’s such a privilege to have my portrait painted by a wonderful Barnsley artist like Richard Kitson. He’s captured the real me and if ever I forget who I am, I’ll come to Library @ the Lightbox to remind myself. Barnsley these days is a real hub of the arts, thanks to people like Richard.”
The painting has now been acquired by The Cooper Gallery in Barnsley, where it will go into their permanent collection in June 2024. This will be the second painting of Richard’s to be acquired by the gallery.
“The Trustees of the Cooper Gallery were delighted to purchase Richard’s new portrait of Ian McMillan. The collection of over 400 paintings and drawings at the Gallery includes many fine portraits of those important to Barnsley’s cultural heritage and Richard’s work is of such excellent quality and expression, that this was a wonderful opportunity to add a great piece to the collection.”
Until then, the portrait will be available for anyone to view at Library @ the Lightbox until the end of January 2024.