5 May 2022 09:18

Artist Zi Ling wins Royal Academy of Dance portrait competition

Portrait commission awarded to visual artist Zi Ling for her bold, contemporary take on ballet pioneer and RAD founder, Dame Adeline Genée.

Today we announce the winner of our portrait competition, launched to celebrate the opening of our brand-new global headquarters this year.

Portrait competition winning proposal by Zi Ling.

Artists from across the UK were asked to submit a portrait proposal of pioneering ballet dancer and founding RAD President, Dame Adeline Genée, to win a chance to create a final painting to be unveiled in our new home. Sponsored by historic dance shoemakers Freed of London, the competition was created to honour the legacy of Dame Adeline’s extraordinary contribution to modern British ballet, ensuring that her portrait will be seen and admired by RAD staff, teachers, and dancers alike for generations to come.

A judging panel of singer song-writer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, royal portraitist Ralph Heimans, and Shevelle Dynott, former English National Ballet Dancer alongside RAD President, Dame Darcey Bussell, presented the winning commission to visual artist Zi Ling, an award-winning member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour. The judges were hugely impressed by the calibre of entries for the competition; however, it was Zi’s proposal that really stood out in capturing the essence of Dame Adeline Genée with her bold, expressive, and contemporary interpretation.

Recognition is also given to five shortlisted artists, who were highly commended for their work by the judges, including:

  • Caroline Assheton
  • Thea Beyleveld
  • Sophie Peters
  • Abby Hope Skinner
  • Siobhan Tate

Zi Ling.

Winning artist Zi Ling said: “I am very excited about this wonderful project. As a painter, I specialise in portraits and figurative works – with my favourite subjects being dancers. The spirit of a dancer lies in their movements and rhythm, and I was inspired to paint Dame Adeline because of her distinctive mark on our history and society. In order to capture her beauty as well as her talent, the final portrait will be created in a water-based and pastel medium as a tribute to Degas and his famous ballet dancer paintings”.

Tim Arthur, Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Dance said: “Our new headquarters isn’t just our home, but what we hope will be a vibrant new cultural destination in London for everybody. I am so pleased we have been able to work outside of our discipline and offer this exciting opportunity to artists across the UK. I was very inspired to see the portrait that Zi Ling will create for us- we will be proud to hang this new and contemporary portrait of one of our founders in our new headquarters for all to enjoy.”

About winning artist Zi Ling

Zi Ling’s early years mainly focused on etching, in which she was fascinated with mark marking of abstract figures. Having trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Chelsea College of Arts and Central Academy of Fine Arts China, Zi Ling now focuses on portrait painting, with watercolour her chosen medium. She observes real-life people and finds emotional moments from photographic images as inspiration. With watercolour, she trusts her intuition before making any marks, feeling that colour is an important way to communicate different personalities and realties through her work.

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