Master Cutler Craig McKay and Mistress Cutler Karen McKay, the participants in this year’s Portrait of Distinction Competition.
Master Cutler Craig McKay and Mistress Cutler Karen McKay, the participants in this year’s Portrait of Distinction Competition.

Budding David Hockneys are being invited to show off some Sheffield steel – by submitting their portraits of the Master and Mistress Cutler for this year’s Art In The Gardens.

Master Cutler Craig McKay and Mistress Cutler Karen McKay are the participants in this year’s Portrait of Distinction Competition.

From Monday 18 July, artists from all over the region and beyond can collect a portrait of the couple from the main reception at Sheffield Town Hall and begin work on their portraits or sculptures. Photographs will be handed out on a first-come first-served basis.

The Master and Mistress Cutler sat for photographs in the iconic Cutlers Hall early this year.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure, said: “The Master and Mistress Cutler generously gave their time to pose for different photographs to give artists a wide range of portrait styles to choose from.  It is particularly appropriate that the Master and Mistress Cutler are profiled this year, in what is Sheffield’s Year of Making.

“Different locations in the Cutlers Hall provide a historic backdrop to the elegant photographic portraits. We know that this year’s Portrait of Distinction will be popular with artists and sculptors alike and will form a stunning exhibition in the Botanical Gardens, where people can enjoy brilliant art in a stunning outdoor location.”

Craig McKay became the 377th Master Cutler in October 2015.  He is one of the youngest ever Master Cutlers and CEO of award winning Sheffield engineering firm Evenort Ltd.  Craig sits on the Industrial Advisory Board of Sheffield Hallam University, the Industrial Advisory Board of the AMRC Training Centre and is Trustee of South Yorkshire Community Foundation and Museums Sheffield.   He and Karen have three children.

The installation of the Master Cutler is a Sheffield tradition running for almost 400 years.   Sheffield has a long held reputation for metallurgy and steel making and the prestigious Company of Cutlers was founded in 1624.  The city’s first Master Cutler was Robert Sorsby. The Master and Mistress Cutler now also represent the city’s wider manufacturing and technology interests.

The exhibition of Portraits of Distinction can be seen in the Open Art Marquee at the top of the main lawn and the Master and Mistress Cutler will be judging them and selecting the winner

Celebrating its thirteenth anniversary, Art in the Gardens will fill Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens with around 300 artists and craft workers, exhibiting more than 4,000 pieces of their work, on Friday 2 September to Sunday 4 September.

Previous well-known names who have been the centrepiece of the competition include The Sitwells of Renishaw Hall, Pulp drummer Nick Banks, television presenter Bradley Walsh, former Coronation Street actor Bruce Jones, music icon Dave Berry, artist Joe Scarborough, BBC weather presenters Paul Hudson and Lisa Gallagher, the Earl and Countess of Scarborough, Olympic high diver Monique Gladding and BBC Radio Sheffield’s Toby Foster and Rony Robinson.

Each year, visitors come from across the country to view the top-quality work at Art in the Gardens, the North of England’s largest outdoor art show.

The range of creativity on display includes photography, ceramics, textiles, print making, leatherwork, wood turning, glass work, jewellery, and sculptures in metal, wood, and stone.

There is also a dedicated children’s area, a stage with musical performances throughout the weekend, an Open Art Exhibition, artists, a bustling market and the gardens themselves to explore and enjoy.

For further information please contact the Major Events Team on 0114 2736681, events@sheffield.gov.uk