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23 Sep 2014 16:19
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  •   Home > News > Living & Travel

    Artist on edge ahead of royal unveiling

    Nick Cuthell admits to being both nervous and excited ahead of his portrait of the Queen being unveiled in front of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

    A Wellington artist who painted a portrait of the Queen is a bundle of nerves ahead of it being unveiled in front of her grandson.

    Nick Cuthell had an hour with the Queen at Buckingham Palace last October and the resulting artwork will get its first public showing at a state reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Government House on Thursday.

    Cuthell and the Queen chatted away during the sitting - and the 34-year says he could have talked for hours longer.

    "She was wonderful. She was very astute, really funny, and incredibly elegant as well which made my day very easy."

    He decided to pick out a blue day dress for her to wear as it would complement her diamond silver fern brooch which symbolised a link to New Zealand - the same one Kate wore on her arrival in Wellington on Monday.

    The New Zealand Portrait Gallery suggested the idea of a portrait to Buckingham Palace which agreed.

    But while Cuthell works quickly for an oil painter, he admits he was a bit worried the work wouldn't dry in time, with the final coat of varnish put on last week.

    "It was down to the wire."

    And with around 130 official portraits of the Queen already, there was a lot of pressure to produce something different.

    He was inspired by 19th century painters, although he has his own style which he describes as a little slap-dash, where "paint looks like paint".

    Cuthell has painted former Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard, actor Sir Ian McKellen and a raft of Hobbit cast members, but painting the Queen was the pinnacle of his career.

    "It was truly a dream come true for me. If you'd asked me five or 10 years ago, think of something amazing which you could do that would never come true, I would have said paint the Queen - and then it came true."

    Cuthell will be at Government House for his work's unveiling, and he's both nervous and excited to see the reaction to his work.

    "It will be such a lovely way to finish what's been a once-in-a-life-time process."


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