Meet Leeds Art Gallery‘s Artist-In-Residence – London-based artist and winner of Sky’s ‘Portrait Artist’ of the Year Curtis Holder.

Holder works primarily in graphite and coloured pencil to create large-scale portraits and figurative works on paper, taking inspiration from intimate conversations with the people he draws.

In 2020, Holder achieved widespread recognition by winning the prestigious Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year competition, with judges praising his work as “magical” and “startlingly new”. Since then, he has continued to garner critical acclaim and awards, including The John Ruskin Prize which he won in 2024. Holder has exhibited widely in the UK and in Paris, and is a member of the Contemporary British Portrait Painters, The Pastel Society and an Associate Member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art. His work is held in private and public collections including the National Portrait Gallery, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Soho House and the National Theatre where he became the theatre’s first ever Artist in Residence in 2022.

We are incredibly fortunate to be working with Holder to contribute to this vital conversation around decolonisation and the representation of minority communities in our museums and galleries. Leeds Art Gallery is home to a vibrant, evolving collection of modern and contemporary British art, as well as dynamic exhibition and education programmes which reflect the city’s diverse communities. Recent exhibitions have explored the representation of people of African, Caribbean and Asian descent and featured inspirational artists such as Barbara Walker, Charmaine Watkiss and Sonia Boyce. You can follow Holder’s progress on our social media channels over the coming months.

The 20/20 project was created by the UAL Decolonising Arts Institute in response to urgent calls for action within arts and culture in the wake of Black Lives Matter. The project works in partnership with 20 UK public collections, museums and galleries, and is supported by funding from Freelands FoundationArts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants Programme and UAL.