Portrait: BBC's Kate Adie CBE DL
My portrait of the BBC’s Kate Adie has been selected from over 1,000 entries to appear alongside paintings by some of the world’s leading portrait artists. It will be on display at the Mall Galleries, off Trafalgar Square from April 16-1 May.
Prior to retraining as a portrait artist, I worked as a print journalist & news pr for BBC & Sky News for 20 years. Part of my job involved looking after the public image of a number of high profile broadcast news journalists. So, to join up my past and present careers, I asked if I could portray a handful of them – including the BBC’s Kate Adie - in this more personal way.
With each journalist I had just three hours to take all the reference materials I needed – to photograph them, and to do an oil sketch while we talked. Kate had recently published a book ‘Fighting on the Home Front: The Legacy of Women in World War 1’ so I remember discussing with her some of the fascinating stories she had uncovered.
Kate was my journalist heroine, the reason I went into journalism. I remember seeing her crouched behind a car door, reporting from the Iranian Embassy Siege the year before I became a local newspaper reporter on a paper covering the same news area - Kensington. Kate now presents BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent – the radio programme on which I started my career in the BBC as a Production Assistant. As the BBC’s Chief News Correspondent she was known for her insistence on being on the spot where news was happening.
So when I was talking to Kate, I was looking beyond the friendly woman before me to see if I could glimpse some of the guts and grit it took to do the job she did for 14 years, reporting from the frontline of history. And then she gave me an unexpected gift. She asked if I could speak up a little (as I have a quiet voice) and told me she had been partially deaf from birth. This insight allowed me to show Kate concentrating on listening – a trait in her reporting I most admire.
Stella Tooth painting study of Kate Adie in oils on canvas board in BBC radio studio.
I’ve portrayed Kate in a BBC Radio studio in BBC Broadcasting House in London with a yellow microphone peculiar to the national broadcaster.