- 2015 is a record year for the number of countries sending entries - up to 92 countries from 73 countries in 2014
- the number of entries has more than doubled over the last 10 years - this award is increasingly recognised as prestigious at an international level.
- the move to 100% digital submission helped increase the overall number of entries (see BP Portrait Award 2015 entry goes digital and How to enter the £30000 BP Portrait Award 2015)
- the number of INTERNATIONAL entries increased by some 53%
- the number of UK entries dipped by 100 entries (-6.7%)
- around 2% of the entry was selected for exhibition however:
- only 1.7% of the UK entry was selected
- some 2.4% of the international entry was selected
- as a result, the percentage of UK artists in the exhibition also took a big dip. They now account for less than half the artwork in the exhibition.
Below I unpick the numbers and show you what they look like in charts and a table.
The reason for doing the analysis three-fold:
- it helps reveal to artists who submitted work what happened in this year's entry and selection processes
- it provides some feedback to the BP Team about statistics they might not have spotted in any analysis of this year's entry
- it helps inform the decision-making of the artists who are going to think about submitting work in 2016 (Entry for the BP Portrait Award 2016 will open in November 2015.)
The sources for all the numbers are the National Portrait Gallery Press Releases in recent years. That and me asking for the numbers! ;)
Total no. of entries
I've done a chart of how the number of entries have more than doubled in the last 10 years. To be precise:
- the number of entries this year is 147% higher than those received in 2006.
- the number of entries in 2015 are 15% higher than in 2014.
|BP Portrait Award 2006 - 2015: Total number of entries|
Balance between UK and International EntriesThis chart shows the balance of entries between UK and International Entries between 2010 and 2015.
|BP Portrait Award 2010-2015: Balance between UK and International Entries|
- the number of entries from the UK dropped this year from 1,490 in 2014 to 1,390 in 2015 - that's a drop of 100 entries or some 6.7%
- by way of contrast the international entry rocketed this year from 887 in 2014 to 1,358 in 2015 - that's an increase of 53% which one assumes is entirely down to the introduction of digital entry
- the rules limited entries to one per artist, which means that the increase in international entries reflects a much greater interest amongst international artists in this art competition!
What's very odd about the UK figures is that in other art competitions, the switch to digital entry almost always leads to a significant increase in entries (as per the international entries). The UK figures have not followed the trend observed elsewhere.
- Maybe this is due to portrait artists in the UK not being conversant with technology and not knowing how to do a digital entry?
- It's odd given that 2014 provided the option for digital entry so it's not like this was sprung on people......
British artists now need to be aware that in future they face increased competition. Below I look at the success rates of UK vs international entries in becoming exhibited.
Selected artists relative to Entries (UK & International)
The table below indicates that the percentage success rate for all artists who submitted work is very, very low. Typically around about 2% of the entries - and this is a figure which artists need to bear in mind when considering whether to submit a portrait to next year's exhibition.
|UK selections as % of entries||2.3%||2.7%||2.9%||2.4%||1.7%|
|International selections as % of entries||2.2%||2.1%||2.7%||2.1%||2.4%|
Comparison of Countries
I took the last five years and compared the countries where the exhibiting artists live in terms of:
- the numbers for each country in each year between 2011 and 2015
- ranked according to the numbers in 2015, then 2014, then 2013 etc
- the percentage of total portraits exhibited over the five year period of 2011-2015.
|2011||2012||2013||2014||2015||Total||% over 5 years|
The UK Countries - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
- the UK now accounts for less than half of the exhibiting artists - some 41% in 2015 compared to and 65% in 2014 and 70% in 2011. This is probably the most significant change of all.
- England consistently comes top of the list of countries of exhibited artists. In total 55% of the portraits in the last 5 years have come from English artists living in England.
- BUT the percentage of paintings in the exhibition by English artists has dropped from 62% in 2011 to 38% in 2015. This represents a reduction of about a third in five years. This finding will explain to some portrait artists why their portrait was not selected this year (leaving aside any aesthetic and quality issues)
- Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also seen a reduced number of artists selected for exhibition - with Scotland seeing the biggest reduction in 2015.
- THE USA and Spain are the two countries with a consistent presence in the exhibition. Each has got 24 paintings into the exhibitions over the last five years. Each has seen a pattern of growth over time with the most significant increase coming in 2015.
- the USA has doubled the number of artists from the USA represented in the exhibition in the space of five years
- Spain has created a consistent trend for getting artists selected
- In terms of continents in 2015:
- 80% of the artists are from Europe
- North America accounts for 18%
- Australasia (ie Australia) makes (I think) its first appearance with one artist selected in 2015
Is it the diversity in the international entries or the quality of the portraits submitted by artists in the USA and Spain which accounts for the significant shift in the exhibited artists in 2015.
Or maybe it's the judges? After it's always a question of personal taste. ;)
The competition was judged from original paintings by:
- Pim Baxter, Acting Director at the time of judging, National Portrait Gallery (Chair);
- Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery;
- Kim Mawhinney, Head of Art, National Museums Northern Ireland;
- Peter Monkman, Artist;
- Simon Schama, Historian; and
- Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts & Culture, BP.
Previous analysis of BP entriesI've been analysing the statistics for some time.
- 2013 - BP Portrait Award 2013 - Selected Artists and Statistics - list of selected portraits / exhibiting artists for the 2012 Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
- 2012 - BP Portrait Award 2012 - 55 Selected Artists includes links to all the artists and a statistical analysis of the entries by country
- 2011 - BP Portrait Award 2011: People's Favourite & Statistics
- 2009 - BP Portrait Award - who enters and who gets selected
More about the BP Portrait Award 2015
- BP Portrait Award 2015 entry goes digital 18 Aug 2014 - BP Portrait Award 2015: An overview of the change to digital entry and tips on how to get good quality digital image of your painting.
- How to enter the £30000 BP Portrait Award 2015 24 Nov 2014
- Shortlist for £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2015 announced - images of the portraits and details of the three artists shortlisted for the First Prize. At the end you will find a list of all my previous blog posts about the BP Portrait Exhibition going back to 2006.
- Selected Artists - BP Portrait Award 2015 - an extremely popular blog post which includes images by 11 of the artists and links to their website. This is the blog post to check out if you want to submit work next year!