Art collector Charles Saatchi snaps up Wearside artist’s work

Charles Saatchi
Charles Saatchi
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A NOTED art collector’s eye for excellence has led him to buy the works of an up-and-coming Wearside artist.

Charles Saatchi is renowned for his support of young artistic talent.

But former Whitburn Comprehensive School pupil Jill McKnight, 22, admits she was shocked to get a call from the famous former advertising man’s gallery expressing interest in several of her pieces.

His eagle-eyed staff had spotted them on her website and on display at the well-known Goldsmiths’ art school in London, from where she was graduating with a first-class degree.

Now Saatchi’s owns three of her sculptures - ‘Cup’, ‘Chicken After Guernica’, and ‘Bob’.

‘Cup’ is inspired by ancient African sculpture and is of a female form but with a head like a cup. ‘Chicken After Guernica’ is an abstract version of Picasso’s famous Spanish Civil War depiction, with both pieces made in expanding foam. And ‘Bob’, made from plaster bandage, is based on Jill’s haircut.

Jill, from Seaburn, said: “I was very surprised when I got a call from the senior director of his gallery. She asked me about the availability of a selection of my works.

“A few days later I got another call confirming he wanted three pieces. It’s very rare for a young artist to sell anything at the moment because the money isn’t around like it was when Damien Hirst and others broke on to the scene. Mr Saatchi’s support is fantastic and has given me so much motivation to do well. I’ve no idea what he plans to do with them and I understand a lot of The Saatchi Gallery’s pieces are held in storage, but it would be wonderful if one day they were exhibited there.”

Jill says her one-year art foundation diploma course at South Tyneside College in 2009 gave her great grounding and provided much of the inspiration for her success at Goldsmiths, which has spawned artists such as Hirst and Antony Gormley. College lecturer Nick Banks expressed his delight at her success and said she was one of three exceptional students from her year group to make it to Goldsmiths.

Jill has now landed an assistant’s job at the Serpentine Gallery in London’s 
Kensington Gardens.

Jill’s website is at