Former Darwen Aldridge Community Academy student Khushna Sulaman-Butt, 23, has made it to the heats of Sky’s Portrait Artist of the Year.
Kushna, who was the first ever Aldridge student to gain a place at Oxford University where she graduated with a degree in Fine Art in 2016, is competing in the fifth series of the show.
She said: “I’m really excited about the show but quite nervous too. I had so much fun filming. It was an incredible experience and I learned a lot. We only had four hours to complete the portrait so the pressure was immense, but it was amazing.”
Over the course of 11 episodes, professional and amateur artists are put through several rounds of regional competitions in which they are challenged to produce a portrait of one of three famous sitters.
Three judges decide the winning artist of each round, who goes on to the semi-final and then to the final, which are both filmed at the National Portrait Gallery. The overall winner receives a £10,000 commission to paint a famous personality, which this year is Tom Jones, and the picture becomes part of a National Gallery exhibition.
Kushna, who now lives in London, was the youngest exhibitor shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award in 2017 and had one of her paintings exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery.
Her mother, Ghazala Sulaman-Butt, said: “It was a challenge but she’s done herself proud. I am absolutely ecstatic and really proud of her. She’s living her dream and doing what she wants to do.”