Skip to main content

BP Portrait Award


BP Portrait Award
Wim Heldens - first
Louis Smith - second
Ian Cumberland - third
Young Artist Award - Sertan Saltan

The first in the line up was Isobel Peachey's 'R.H.', a male friend whom she has captured in an almost eerie naturalism.
The first portrait that I felt emotionally overwhelmed by was Jan Mikula's 'Jakub', oil on canvas, but which is clearer than a high resolution photograph. Viewers were getting up as close as they could to examine the paintwork whilst slack-jawed before telling their neighbour 'astonishing'. It is apt, then, that Jakub is a documentary film maker - because this has to be the most authentic documentation of a person in oil that I've seen. A little girl, having stared at it a while, looked up to her mother and said 'that's freaky'.
Louis Smith's 'Holly', the second prize-winner is undoubtedly impressive, if only in size. The scene is based on the classic myth of Prometheus, who was chained to a rock by Zeus. I'm not sure it deserved to make second - but then again, it is a naked woman chained to a rock!
I really admired Colin Davidson's portrait of Oscar-winning Irish song-writer Glen Hansard. Davidson has captured a fretful, melancholic face, although there seems to be an excess of red on Hansard's moustache, which serves to distract somewhat.
Daan van Doorn's portrait of Courtney Pine is bizarre - not because he is sand saxophone - but because his pupils seem like drugged-up pin dots!
Thea Penna's triptych of self-portraits evokes the emotions writ deeply on the face. I almost felt like crying in sympathy at the expressions of anger and sadness.
There seemed to be many portraits of teenage boys - guitar in hand, recovering from the night before, Venus as boy etcetera - these were just ordinary, and not just because of the feeling of ubiquity that they conveyed. So imagine my reaction when I reached the first prize-winner's portrait - of yet another young man. This one is of Jeroen, 'a young man to whom Heldens has been a father figure since childhood'. Whilst impressed by the number of self-taught artists, a group that Wim Heldens belongs to, I was non-plussed by this - as was a teenage girl and her younger brother who were beside me. I really took to the next picture along - Elie Shamir's 'Father and I, Life Size', which shows the artist and his ageing farmer father against a background of the Father's farm and the artist's studio.
Another impressive picture was of Glenda Jackson, by Edward Sutcliffe. It conveys her strength yet fragility too; and hasn't shied away from every crease, crack and crevice.




Location:National Portrait Gallery

Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

My PhD critical paper

I thought I'd upload the critical element of my PhD thesis. Hopefully, for those who are interested enough to read it, it will make sense despite the references to my creative work, which I can't upload as I'm seeking publication. And besides, at 68,000 words...

I'm also going to tweak section one of this three section critical paper with a view to journal publication because of the academic interest in the claims I make of Mary.




-Dedicated with love and respect to Dr Bruce Lloyd-


And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
Good people who taught me so much more than they realised

***


The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

I would also like to acknowledge the generous studentship that I was fortunate to be awarded by Kingston Universi…

Midwinter Break - Bernard McLaverty

The only other book that I've read of Bernard MacLaverty was the sublime Grace Notes, published in 1997, and shortlisted for the Booker Prize of the same year. That prize was awarded to an author of another similar hiatus recently broken, Arundhati Roy, of the widely acclaimed The God of Small Things. I was certain, when buying the kindle version of Midwinter Break, that MacLaverty's first book in seventeen years (Cal, 2001, was his most recent) had made both the Booker Longlist and Shortlist - but having just double-checked - am disappointed and confused to find it had made neither. MacLaverty's prose style feels Yatesian, after the late Richard Yates, US author of Revolutionary Road, and TheEaster Parade
Midwinter Break, set in Amsterdam, is written in the same deliciously clear and poignant prose that so widely marked out Grace Notes. The husby and I have not long returned from a late summer break in that same fabulous city. With the visit to the Rijksmuseum still fre…