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Portrait artist sees drama every day in her court role
Amanda Clegg
PORTRAIT artist Amanda Clegg’s day job means she’s never exactly short of inspiration.

When she isn’t working on her latest commission, or having her work featured on Doctor Who, 40-year-old Amanda is employed as an usher at Cardiff Crown Court where the daily dramas and images cannot help but seep into her head.

She said: “I always see it as very theatrical anyway. You are setting a scene every morning, with the people coming in as the actors and I just usher them through.”

Originally from Lancashire, Amanda, who lives in Canton, settled in Cardiff after studying theatre design in the city.

After graduating in 1989 she began a career as a prop maker and scenic artist.

But although “sidetracked”, as she says, into that creative endeavour, it was always, and remains, faces she loved to capture, especially marrying them in her work to the portraits of the 15th and 16th centuries.

She added: “I am mesmerised by the enigmatic expressions of the proud sitters and it is my desire to recreate this mystery in my own paintings.

“Portraits should be more than just an accurate likeness of the sitter. I want to portray people in a more ethereal light, taking the portrait back to its traditional function, celebrating the person and their persona.”

Which is why an Amanda Clegg portrait is like no other and would not look out of place in a baronial hall. They are even cleverly aged to achieve the appropriate patina.

“At the start of the commission I like to establish what it was that attracted the client to my work so we can begin to discuss the requirements of the portrait, for example historical costume, enigmatic expression or maybe the ancestral tone of my paintings,” she says.

Because she works to commissions, Amanda has never been able to hold an exhibition of her work because once they are completed, they are whizzed away by the client.

One she would like to be re-united with, though, is the portrait she did of actress Sophie Myles as Madame de Pompadour for the 2006 Girl in the Fireplace, which featured in an episode of Doctor Who.

“It was in shot for all of five seconds but I would love to know what happened to it after they finished filming,” says Amanda.

She switched from painting in pastels to oils about 10 years ago and now works exclusively in the medium to produce her stylish work, which has also included an impressive portrait of Cardiff band, RocketGoldStar, which was used for their CD.

Asked who would be her dream subject, she has no hesitation – Colin Firth as Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy.

Text by Jean Parry from

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