18 May 2001: The Times

Dame Diana Finds A New Scottish Role

A painting of Dame Diana Rigg will hang among portraits of criminals, a stripper and a sanitary man in a Scottish gallery, it was announced yesterday.

The portrait, by June Mendoza, will be unveiled tonight to mark the opening of a millennium exhibition of ordinary people in Britain.

The former Avengers star, now Chancellor of Stirling University, will attend the Scottish opening of the People's Portraits exhibition at the Smith Art Gallery in Stirling.

Dame Diana sat for several hours at her home in Dunblane, Perthshire, for the 20in x 16in oil painting.

Mendoza's previous subjects have included the Queen (several times), the Prince of Wales, John Major and Baroness Thatcher, Yehudi Menuin, Sean Connery and Dame Judi Dench.

Thirty artists from the Royal Society of Portrait Painters --who usually command tens of thousands of pounds for commissioned work - have painted ordinary people and donated their work to form a permanent collection.

The President of the Royal Society, Paul Brason, who can ask up to Pounds 50,000 a picture, painted a garage proprietor. Other artists chose subjects from a Scots policewoman, the stripper, a shoplifter, a tramp, a student, a newspaper seller, a Sussex septic tank clearer and a diplomat in Rabat. Dame Diana was chosen because of her role in academia.

Mendoza said: "Diana Rigg was chosen as someone connected with Stirling and Scotland, who is known locally as much for her role as university chancellor as she is for her wonderful acting."

The People's Portraits exhibition will run at the Smith Art Gallery in Stirling from tonight until July 2, after which it will be housed in London as a permanent collection.

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