A Southampton-based artist has celebrated her debut solo exhibition at Southampton City Art Gallery.

The gallery proudly displayed 24 portraits painted by Melanie Georgiou on Saturday, July 6, displaying the faces of 24 people with connections to Southampton.

Melanie told the Echo: “ I have the very fortunate opportunity of showcasing 24 portraits that I’ve painted of 24 people with a connection to Southampton and each of those people has an aspiring story to tell.

“It’s absolutely magical to have my exhibition in this gallery, it’s the last thing I to happen to me but life does give us some wonderful surprises.”

In 2022, Melanie was awarded first place in Southampton City Art Gallery’s Open Exhibition, with a painting of her friend, Zen Black.

Melanie Georgiou's winning portrait of Zen Black (Image: Matt Davey)

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Artists from across the region were invited to respond to the question – ‘What does culture mean to you?’

The panel of judges felt the portrait of Zen Black was “both a bold and tender portrait, confidently holding and challenging the viewers gaze and almost asking, ‘Is this me or you?’”

After winning the competition, Melanie was invited to design and display her very own exhibition.

“Zen represents a human right for everyone to live authentically as themselves,” she said.

Originally from London – Melanie has lived in Southampton for 12 years – and very much considers the city her home now.

She said: “I love it here; I’ve already begun work on a new collection.

“I’m very inspired by the New Forest and have been travelling there a lot, it’s a gorgeous area.”

Speaking on her exhibition, she added: “It’s fantastic to get so many people involved and I can’t thank Southampton City Art Gallery enough.”

Melanie is hoping both visitors and non-visitors of her exhibition, can promote arts in the city going forward.

She said: “I would just encourage everyone to get out and explore art culture, live music, and the arts as a whole really as there’s so much to enjoy and celebrate.”