A surprise stint on Sky Arts has thrust a local amateur artist into the limelight of a solo exhibition in the Kitchen Gallery at Cockington Court.

Torbay painter James Murch normally earns a living from working in the legal world but a brilliant run to the semi-finals of the 2019 Landscape Artist of the Year show has potentially changed his future.

“It was surprising to get the call from Sky Arts and, for someone who is normally quite reserved, it was quite a shock to be thrown into a TV show,” said James, 38. “It was a really good experience but a little daunting as well.

“The filming and interviewing was the bit I found difficult but the actual painting was where I felt more comfortable. I’m used to painting outdoors, or plein air painting is the French term, but it was still a very intense experience.”

James will be showcasing his talents in the famous Kitchen Gallery at Cockington Court before running on to the Devon Open Studios from September 12 to 27 at the same venue.

The exposure for James is also in recognition of a unique contribution through the Covid crisis, as he joined fellow artists providing free portraits for NHS heroes.

He said: “While a lot of my work is landscapes, I started out with portraiture and there was a period during lockdown when we provided free portraits for NHS workers, which was a fantastic experience.

“I will be staying in the Kitchen Gallery for the whole period and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. I’ve done smaller shows but this will be my first solo exhibition.

“After the Sky Arts programme, they produce an exhibit of the finalists’ work in Mayfair and I got a good response, so this builds on that momentum. I’ve always painted as a hobby and have now been catapulted into the world of selling my art.

“I actually work part-time in legal services and a very different world to painting.”

James’ work is on show from August 8 at Cockington Court, and also online at www.jamesmurch.com