Evening Express “A Glory To God” by Esther Beadle

N-east artist delighted with praise. An artist today described how this year’s birthday was extra special after her painting was unveiled to thousands of people. Nicole Porter, 27, was asked to paint a portrait to mark the retirement of Bishop of Liverpool James Jones. The former Ellon Academy pupil, who now runs a gallery in Aberdeen’s King Street, saw her handiwork unveiled to almost 3,000 people at Liverpool Cathedral – on the day she turned 27. Nicole said: “It was quite surreal. The whole experience was quite emotional because he’s done so much for the city, like leading the Hillsborough Inquiry. “There were a lot of tears, but it was good to be part of it. It was a good birthday present. (more…)

Painter’s Online “The Official Portrait of the Bishop of Liverpool James Jones Unveiled” by Dawn Farley

The official portrait of the Bishop of Liverpool James Jones is unveiled this week. The portrait, which celebrates the Bishop’s retirement, has been unveiled at the Farewell Ceremony to over 2,500 people at Liverpool Cathedral on Wednesday evening. The artist, Nicole Porter studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee before continuing her studies in Norway, Paris and New York. Since returning to her hometown of Aberdeen, the award-winning artist has set up her own gallery and studio space where she specialises in portrait painting. Bishop James Jones, who retires in August, is depicted standing on The Dulverton Bridge, which provides a view of the cathedral as the backdrop to the portrait. Gazing upwards, the artist has created a sense of spiritual reflection. A relaxed yet firm stance represents his approachable nature while symbolising his position as a figure of guidance and authority within the community. Travelling back and forth over the past six months, Nicole Porter arranged sittings with the Bishop in Liverpool Cathedral while continuing to work on the portrait in her Aberdeen based studio. Bishop James Jones said he felt the portrait was a glory to God. Nicole Porter expressed “It was a honour to paint Bishop James and the experience is one I will treasure forever. I hope the portrait will inspire people to reflect on all the great things he has done throughout his career.”

Press and Journal “Artist Reveals Man Behind Famous Face” by Morag Lindsay

Art: Nicole got to know Bishop of Liverpool as she painted portrait. An award-winning young north-east artist has unveiled her most prestigious work yet – an oil painting of the outgoing Bishop of Liverpool. Nicole Porter’s portrait marks James Jones’s retirement from the role and celebrates a career that has earned him the respect of the city, not least through his chairmanship of the Hillsborough Independent Panel. The 27-year-old, who has her own gallery and studio in King Street, Aberdeen, was invited to apply for the commission and made it through four judging rounds before being selected. Her first sitting with the bishop took place in February and, in the six months that followed, she spent many hours with her subject, staying in the bishop’s lodge and getting to know the man behind the dog collar over the breakfast table and bedtime cuppas. On the streets of Liverpool, she was left in no doubt about the esteem in which he is held. “When I went anywhere with him, people would come up and thank him for everything he had done for the city,” she said. “They are so proud of their bishop and grateful for his work. “I knew I had to do him justice. This portrait isn’t just about marking some tradition, it’s to honour someone who is genuinely loved.” The painting was unveiled to almost 3,000 people, including families of victims of the Hillsborough football tragedy, a the bishop’s farewell service at Liverpool Cathedral and will be on display there for the next nine months before being hung in the lodge. Guests at the ceremony were full of praise for her portrayal of her subject. The man himself said the felt it was “a glory to God” – a compliment Miss Porter will treasure forever. In terms of prestige, the portrait is the biggest achievement to date for the former Ellon Academy pupil, who graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee in 2008 before studying in Norway, Paris and New York. Even grander in scale is her current project – a 10ft by 7ft painting to mark the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum. “I like the idea of paintings reflecting history and this is a pretty significant event, so it felt appropriate to do something big,” she said. “It’s in my studio so people can drop in and watch me working on it.”

John Jones “Nicole Porter – Portrait Painter” by Lucinda Iszatt

This greatly detailed painting is a fine example of realism, executed with a high level of skill by portrait painter and John Jones client Nicole Porter. Nicole gained a first class honours degree in Fine Art from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee. Being awarded the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant allowed her to undertake an apprenticeship with world-renowned painter Odd Nerdrum in Norway and Paris. Her studies then took her New York where she attended The Arts Students League while assisting figurative painter Steven Assael in his Manhattan studio. Nicole has since returned to her hometown of Aberdeen where she has set up her own gallery and studio space where she undertakes portrait commissions. She has recently unveiled her most recent work, the official portrait of the Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones at Liverpool Cathedral. The artist uses birch plywood panels, providing a museum level support for her portraiture. John Jones technicians prepare the panels with rabbit skin glue before oil priming the surface ready for painting. Selecting these archival art materials will protect and preserve Nicole’s paintings for years to come, ensuring they remain in pristine condition throughout their lifetime on display. “I could not have been more happy with the quality of both the products and services provided by John Jones. It is reassuring to know that you can rely on them for the highest level of professionalism. I always feel wrong when I start to paint on what is already a work of art.” Nicole Porter

The Liverpool Post “Bishop Farewell to city after 15 years in top job” by Alan Weston

MORE than 2,000 people were expected to attend a farewell service for the Bishop of Liverpool last night. The service for the Rt Rev James Jones at Liverpool Cathedral was due to be held ahead of his retirement on his 65th birthday in August. A wide range of civic dignitaries were expected, including Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, plus serving and retired clergy, and congregation members to mark the Bishop’s retirement from the post he has held since 1998. In his final sermon last night, the Bishop was set to blame the crisis in public institutions on the decline of Christianity. He was due to say: “Our laws, our liberty, our language, our literature, our learning, our leisure and our landscape have all been shaped by the Christian faith. “Losing touch with these foundations inevitably has an impact on the superstructure of our society. “The poor performance in Parliament, the police, the press, the banks, and even the NHS have led to a crisis of confidence and lack of public trust. The behaviour of individuals has discredited our institutions. “It is difficult to prove this which is why I simply call it ‘a hunch’ but the erosion of our Christian foundations – or at the very least the taking them for granted – has removed one of the checks and balances on our behaviour both individually and corporately.” But the Bishop believes society is about to enter an age when it would realise how far the “good foundations of the Christian faith” had been ignored. The Diocese was also due to receive a specially-commissioned portrait of the bishop which will hang in Bishop’s Lodge alongside those of his predecessors. The portrait – of Bishop James standing on the Dulverton Bridge of the cathedral – was painted over a period of six months by Aberdeen artist Nicole Porter. She said: “It was an honour to paint Bishop James and the experience is one I will treasure forever. I hope the portrait will inspire people to reflect on all the great things he has done throughout his career.” The Bishop of Warrington, the Rt Rev Richard Blackburn, will have pastoral oversight of the Diocese of Liverpool until a permanent replacement is appointed to one of the most senior roles in the Church of England. The service was planned to end with Bishop James formally handing over the pastoral staff to Bishop Richard. Bishop James’s profile increased hugely towards the end of his ministry, after he was appointed chairman of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and helped to produce the definitive report into the disaster which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool FC fans. The Bishop will continue to have a role within the Hillsborough process as an advisor to Home Secretary Theresa May after his retirement. The Diocese said the next Bishop of Liverpool was not expected to be announced until spring 2014 at the earliest.

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