Thursday, April 24, 2008

James Lloyd wins The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture

Iris and me
James Lloyd - winner of The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture
copyright artist

I’m very pleased to announce that James Lloyd is the first artist ever to achieve the ‘double’ of winning the The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture as well as the the BP Portrait Award which he won in 1997. The Ondaatje Prize is awarded annually to the painter of the most distinguished painting in the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. It is one of the most prestigious prizes in the world of portraiture and the winner receives a prize of £10,000 and the Society’s Gold Medal.

I arrived a little late yesterday lunchtime at the Private View of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters at the Mall Galleries – which was absolutely packed out as per usual – and caught the end of the presentations to the winners of various prizes.

I was particularly pleased to find out that James had won the Ondaatje as he is my Drawing Tutor and my regular ‘Drawing A Head’ class at the Princes Drawing School starts up again tonight! When I found him in the crush I asked him when he found out and apparently artists only get to hear a couple of days in advance – that's so you know to turn up for the Private View!

His prize-winning painting is a self-portrait called Iris and Me which includes his eldest daughter Iris (who I think is 3). The design appears to be a spin on and a reminder of that most esteemed painting and portrait artist Las Meninas by Velaquez. I did spend all of 10 seconds sat on a bench in St James Park afterwards working out whether “Iris and Me” was an anagram of Meninas!! I shall be taking the opportunity to ask him about how the portrait came about tonight.

In the painting, we see the back of the easel which carries a very large canvas on the left of the picture. James is stood in the centre and his daughter stands to the right. Yesterday Iris was dressed in the very same embroidered dress that she wears in the painting and carried the same stuffed animal. When having her photo taken in front of the picture she was remarkedly composed and shows all the signs of a daughter who knows how to model! I also met James’ second daughter Cleo for the first time yesterday and I’m intrigued as to how he will paint her in due course as she is a complete ‘mini-me’ of her father!

Royal Society of Portrait Painters – Prizewinners 2008

Here's the formal list of the prizewinners. Hopefully at some point the section of the RSPP website devoted to prizes will be updated. At present it still reflects 2007.
  • The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture for the most distinguished portrait of the year – James Lloyd. James held the Paul Smith Scholarship at the Slade School of Art (1994-96). He won the BP Portrait Prize in 1997. Other prizes he has won include the ING Discerning Eye Award in 2003 and the Carroll Foundation Award (now the de Laszlo Foundation Award – see below – in 1999. He's undertaken a number of commissions of prominent figures and has two portraits hanging in the National Portrait Gallery including his portrait of Paul Smith. He is not a member of the RSPP but was invited to participate this year by Daphne Todd the Past President of the RSPP. The judging panel were Tom Coates (last year's prizewinner), Mrs Sonya Cooke-Adam, Jillian Edelstein, Prof. Dame Marilyn Strathern and Dr Timothy Wilson.
  • The De Lazlo Foundation Award for the best portrait by an artist aged 35 or under was won by Ruth Murray for her very large portrait of Girl of 100 epochs. The work is the one tagged as 'Untitled' in the 'Other work' section of the Gallery part of her website at
Girl of 100 epochs
Ruth Murray

copyright artist
  • The Prince of Wales’s Award for Portrait Drawing was won by Peter Brown NEAC, PS, ROI who is a candidate for membership of the RSPP this year.
    • His very large painterly charcoal drawing titled Last Minute Homework depicted his children at the breakfast table. It reminded me very much of his oil painting of his children around the breakfast table which was displayed at the NEAC exhibition last December (see New English Art Club - plus commentary and discussion).
    • Ben Sullivan RP, NEAC (who won the Lynn Painter Stainers prize last year (see Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize and exhibition) limited his entry this year to drawings of himself, his wife and the view from their home. His drawings were miniature in nature and technique and were done on gesso on board.
Bagram in New York
Hynek Martinec
copyright artist
  • The Changing Faces Prize for the portrait that is “most powerful in the way that the subject communicates with the viewer beyond the canvas” was won by Czech artist Hynek Martinec for Bagram in New York. In 2007 Martinec also won the Young Artist Award at the BP portrait last year plus the Visitors Choice Award for his painting of his girlfriend Zuzanah. His other work in this exhibition is a dyptych portrait of a political prisoner (it has symbolic countryside behind the conventional 'mug shot' front and side profiles). This is a photo of him talking with Chuck Close at a show at the White Cube
  • The Arts Club Award for an artist showing at the exhibition who is not already a current Arts Club member was shared by Richard Brazier for his impressive painting Seated Man and Keith Breeden for David Holmes (Breeden has a website but the link does not work).
I find this a very difficult exhibition to take in on Private View day because of the numbers of people. It's very difficult to stand back from a piece and get a proper sense of it in the space because of the people milling around. Other works I did like though included
  • Mother which is a large and very striking watercolour by Vincent Brown. His portrait of his parents was exhibited at the BP Portrait in 2007.
  • The portraits of Toby Wiggins RP continue to mesmerise - they have a very curious quality. This year I particularly liked Catherine. You can also see a preliminary study on his website. He also does absolutely wonderful pencil drawings and has two in the exhibition.
Exhibition details
The exhibition is at the Mall Galleries from today until 1pm on Sunday 11th May. It is open daily including Bank Holidays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm and until 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Admission costs £2.50 and 1.50 for concessions.

Continuing on the theme of portraiture, tomorrow I shall be highlighting the people shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award for 2008.


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