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Blackburn College Fine Art Alumni Eyes Top National Prize


Former University Centre at Blackburn College student Michael Youds is one of three artists to have been shortlisted for the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Portrait Award 2020.

Blackburn’s Michael, who studied the first ever year of the Lancaster University-approved BA (Hons) Fine Art degree, had his piece ‘Labour of Love’ put forward for the award.

Having been selected from 1,981 entries from 69 countries, Michael is now in the running for the £35,000 First Prize at the virtual exhibition on Tuesday 5th May 2020.

He is also an internal progression student with the College having completed both Level 2 and Level 3 Art and Design before moving onto his degree.

Michael (38) said: “I am really happy to be nominated for the top prize at the BP Portrait Award 2020. It is a competition that I have wanted to be shortlisted in for a number of years and to be in alongside artists that I hugely admire is a very nice feeling.

“It is definitely the highlight of my art career so far and it has given me a huge confidence boost about my own work. I left Blackburn College in 2004, so it's not been an overnight success by any means. In December, I was honoured to win the Scottish Portrait Awards but this, being a national competition, would feel like a huge step up. 

“I look back at my time at Blackburn College with great fondness, it was six very enjoyable years that I spent there. The tutors and their support were probably the reason why I am still painting today.”

Michael works as a gallery attendant at the National Galleries of Scotland, but he is also an award-winning artist in his own right and devotes most of his free time to painting portraits and still life at his studio in the city.

His work has previously been selected for exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. In 2019, he won first prize in the Scottish Portrait Awards for a painting of him and his twin brother David, who is also an artist.

To find out more about the BP Portrait Award 2020 please visit:

Blackburn College is an Associate College of Lancaster University. 85% of higher education provision offered at the College is validated by Lancaster. The growing reputation of Lancaster was reflected by The Times and Sunday Times award for University of the Year 2018.

To find out more about the University Centre at Blackburn College’s BA (Hons) Fine Art degree, and to apply for September, please visit:

To find out more about Blackburn College, the University Centre at Blackburn College and all the courses available, please visit

29 Apr 2020, 11:59 AM