A BORDERS-BASED artist has presented Dame Judi Dench with a portrait during her recent visit to Scotland.

Mark Ward was working as a graphic designer when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2017.

And that changed his outlook on life.

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So in April he left his stressful job behind and move to the Borders to follow his dream.

Having been an artist from childhood he now feels privileged and honoured to make his living as a full time professional.

From his ArtyMarks studio in Kelso, he produces original, contemporary art and takes private commissions for portraits and pet portraits.

His work also includes landscapes, wildlife, abstracts, caricatures, cartoons as well as the sale of prints, limited edition prints and he uses a wide range of mediums, mainly working in oils but also acrylics, graphite and digital.

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Mark is inspired by the masters, especially the renaissance giants – but also more contemporary maestros such as Sargent, Bacon, and Van Gogh.

His portfolio includes painting well-known personalities, such as Sir David Attenborough, Will Smith and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

And on Tuesday, August 8 he was invited to present a portrait to Dame Judi at her Festival show ‘I remember it Well in conversation with Gyles Brandreth’ at the Edinburgh Playhouse.

Mark said: “I was honoured to present my portrait of Dame Judi Dench to the legend herself at the Edinburgh Playhouse, after her show with the wonderful Gyles Brandreth.

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“We had expected just a quick meet to hand over the painting but we were taken to her dressing room which was amazing

“ She is such a warm, friendly and beautiful person, inside and out, felt like I’d known her for years.

“My wife Jacqui and I spent a good 20 minutes with them and the champagne was nice too.”

On receiving the gift Dame Judi said: “Gosh that’s such a beautiful painting, thank you.”

Brandreth suggested that the painting should be hung in the National Portrait Gallery.