Lecturer displays artistic talent on Sky Arts

  • Date

    Tue 16 Feb 21

Dr Stephen Jordan in the studio

Essex lecturer Dr Stephen Jordan is one of the talented artists competing in the latest series of Landscape Artist of the Year on Sky Arts

The episode will be first broadcast at 8pm on Thursday 17 February and you can also catch-up with Dr Jordan, a lecturer in the School of Health and Social Care, when the show is repeated over the coming weeks on Sky Arts (Freeview Channel 11).

Dr Jordan had to create an art work in just four hours and then present it to a panel of judges including some of the most famous faces within the artist community: painter Tai Shan Schierenberg, independent curator Kathleen Soriano and art historian Kate Bryan.

He’s excited that Essex students and colleagues will now be able to see the show: “Students and colleagues began to find out when I appeared on the promo on Sky Arts. Everyone’s been positive and complimentary, but that might change when they see me in action!

“I’ve been a fan of the show for a while, but never applied before, so when I did apply last year, I thought I might get invited to be one of the 50 wild card artists, but to my surprise I was selected to go into one of the six pods. It was a great honour as out of the six of us there was only me and another artist who were amateurs.”

He would like to encourage other artists to take the jump and apply to the show as you never know what could happen.

He said: “The filming was in August in North London on one of the hottest days of the year. Filming didn't end until 8pm so it was a long day. You are made a great fuss of and feel very special on the day.

Stephen felt the time limit brought out the best in himself and his fellow competitors. “I had been called by the production company at the end of June to tell me that I had been selected. I knew I would only have four hours to paint something on the day, so set about training myself on days in July to create something acceptable in my style in four hours, I took some days off work and went off on my bike to paint for four hours in the open, so that on the day I would be used to sitting and painting for that time. It meant that on the day I was able to focus and not panic. In the end I think I did the best I could, but everyone can judge when they watch the programme."

Funnily enough Stephen didn't really know what the judges thought until he saw the show: “Ironically you don’t get any direct feedback on the day, as this is saved for the recording. The judges and presenters ask you what you are doing, your style and ideas, but do not give you feedback. The first time I will hear what they thought of me is when the show goes out. However, Joan Bakewell came up to me at the end of the day as I was packing away and said she really liked my painting, so that felt good.”

You can discover more about Dr Jordan's work on his website and students might notice Dr Jordan's love for the visual arts in the classroom: “I like teaching about visual assessment tools such as genograms and ecomaps which help in practice, but beyond that I don’t use art in teaching.”

"I was inspired by my father and grandfather" 

Dr Jordan adds: “I like to play with scale and through that, comment on our place and relationship with the environment. My paintings are concerned with perspective and I am interested in the space where abstraction, realism and landscape can meet.

“I was originally  inspired by my father and grandfather who were both amateur artists and loved painting,” Dr Jordan said. “I started seriously in my teens when I got my first oil paints and attended Saturday morning etching classes at the old Carnarvon Road site of South East Essex College of Arts and Technology. I eventually studied A level art under Carol Shillingford in the early 1980s. The college at the time had a number of great artists, including Carol, there was Anthony Farrell, Les Shaw and the potter Richard Baxter."

His artistic interest was first sparked to life by discovering Vincent Van Gogh who inspired his early artwork, but he adds: “Now its Kurt Jackson, Glynn Thomas and John Wonnacott for landscapes and Jean Michel Basquiat, Anselm Kiefer and John Keane for political/ environmental art.”

These artists influence his latest pieces and his art has two main focuses: “Political art which focusses on my environmental and social concerns and other landscape pictures which celebrate the everydayness of things, my allotment, the seafront, local parks.”

This article was written by journalism student Beth Webb.