Geraldine Sharpe-Newton worked for more than 30 years in corporate communications and media relations, several Fortune 500 companies, for Burson-Marsteller NY. Launched the US edition, Economist. VP at Simon & Schuster, she also headed PR for major global news organisations CBS, ITN and CNN International. President of The Media Society, Mentor for The Prince’s Trust, she advises senior executives on media matters.
Geraldine Sharpe-Newton sitting for her portrait study by Stella Tooth.
The artist’s experience
Standing on Geraldine’s doorstep for the first of two painting sessions, I felt full of nervous anticipation. She left ITN as Head of Press & Public Affairs the same year I joined BBC News and eventually became Senior Publicist. She left Turner International, with CNN and everything outside the US under her care, the year I became Chief Press Officer, World Service. And, as I swapped my blackberry as Sky News’ Head of Publicity for a paintbrush, she had just finished her first stint as President of the Media Society. We had media friends in common. We spoke the same language. I discovered she collected naïve art and that we shared a passion for travel – for ‘vistas’. This was clearly a woman driven – someone who knew where she was going and led by example. To succeed at the very top of the media industry, as she did, I recognised the qualities needed: approachability – a certain cheekiness – grit. A team player, she took to the suggestion of the portrait being a collaboration like a duck to water. “Colour and books – that’s me”, she’d said on the phone. Now she wanted to ‘give back’. She had also warned me about the fugitive light in her east/west facing home in Battersea that found us chasing it from room to room, to get the colour study and reference shots needed.
Portrait created for Portrayed! IWF UK: 25 years of inspiring women exhibition by the Lots Road Group of portraitists 2015.