Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Clara Drummond wins £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2016

The winners of the prizes at the BP Portrait Awards Ceremony last night are as follows....

BP Portrait Award 2016 - £30,000 First Prize

Clara Drummond won the first prize in the BP Portrait award - a cash award of £30,000, plus a commission worth £5,000, to be agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist.

(Note: Links embedded in the name of the artist goes to their website)

Clara Drummond - BP Portrait Award First Prize
with her painting Girl in a Liberty Dress
(260 x 370 mm, oil on board)

Her painting Girl in a Liberty Dress is a portrait of her friend and a fellow artist Kirsty Buchanan who featured in the portraits by Drummond which were selected for the 2013 and 2014 exhibitions. The reference to the paisley dress is that Kirsty sat for Clara for this portrait while wearing a vintage Liberty dress inspired by the fact that both artists were working on an exhibition at the time with the William Morris Society Archive (which was held in May).

Clara Drummond and her model and fellow artist Kirsty Buchanan
She was presented with the prize by Jessica Ennis-Hill, the current Olympic and world heptathlon champion and a BP Ambassador for Sport. She beat allcomers for the shortest preamble to the Awards Ceremony while commenting that she normally thinks of the first, second and third prize as the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals! She was accompanied by Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery and Bob Dudley, Group Chief Executive for BP.

Jessica Ennis-Hill, Clara Drummond, Nicholas Cullinan and Bob Dudley, the group chief executive of BP

In total 38-year-old Cambridgeshire-based artist Drummond has been selected for the exhibition five times (2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2016) but this is the first time she has been shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award.

Clara read Modern Languages at Cambridge. She is also a graduate of The Drawing MA programme at the Prince’s Drawing School (now known as The Royal Drawing School). The intensive year of drawing developed both her draftsmanship and her approach to painting. In 2011 she joined the teaching faculty at the The Royal Drawing School and also teaches at The Saatchi Gallery and at the London Zoo.  Prior to this she was an assistant to portrait painter Jonathan Yeo and then later for a short period in Maria Theresa Meloni’s studio in New York. She has also been awarded the Bulldog Award by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Young Artist of the Year Prize by the Society of Woman Artists.

I'm guessing that the choice of the painting for first prize may surprise some people. I can only recommend that they go take a look for themselves. Portraiture is not only about hyperrealist paintings which take hundreds of hours.

Judges’ comments – Girl in a Liberty Dress

‘This year’s overall winner was noted by all of the judges for its subtle, enigmatic nature, and for the indelible impression the artist’s skill makes on the viewer.’
I know from having spoken to her, that renowned artist and Judge Jenny Saville was very impressed with the winning painting - she thought it stood out from the others.

Clara Drummond with BP Portrait Judge and artist Jenny Saville

TIP for future BP entries:
  • Your painting does not have to be big - this year's exhibition has a lot of smaller paintings 
  • A painting which captures the inner self as well as an outer likeness can do very well.

This is the prizewinners wall.

The BP Portrait Award Prizewinners
from left to right - First Prize, Second Prize and Third Prize
I've already got a video of the exhibition which will demonstrate the change in the size and nature of the paintings in this BP Portrait Award exhibition.

Second Prize: £10,000

Bo Wang, BP Portrait Award Second Prize with Silence
(1000 x 1160 mm, tempera on board)
Second Prizewinner Bo Wang's portrait is full of emotional content as well as being impeccably painted in egg tempera. It depicts his grandmother lying on the hospital bed a month before she died, while she was in the terminal stages of cancer and losing her ability to speak.
‘Sometimes she tilted her head and looked at me. There was too much emotion in her eyes to be expressed in words. I almost forgot about painting techniques or any specific style, just trying to use my brushes to communicate silently with my grandma. I can strongly feel the state of a dying life when I think of her eyes’. 
Bo Wang with Jessica Ennis-Hill, Nicholas Cullinan and Bob Dudley
First and second prizewinners shaking hands as they meet for the first time
after the Awards Presentation
Chinese artist Bo Wang is a lecturer at Suzhou University of Science and Technology in Jiangsu. He studied at the Ilia Repin St Petersburg Academic Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and has exhibited at the National Art Museum of China, in Beijing, and the Xinjiang International Exhibition Centre.

Judges’ comments - Silence

The judges found that Bo Wang’s portrait of his grandmother in a hospital bed as she lay dying was a moving and deeply affecting portrait.’

Third Prize: £8,000

Benjamin and Virginia Sullivan + 12 week old daughter with his painting of poet Hugo Williams
(460 x 360 mm, oil on canvas)

It was a pleasure to meet Benjamin Sullivan and his wife and Virginia who I have grown to know over the years through his paintings. This year they came with a small addition - their 12 week old daughter who they decided was too small to leave at home and who was a HUGE hit with the audience for the awards.
Benjamin Sullivan (plus one wideawake daughter who behaved impeccably)
being presented with his award.
Sullivan is very much a BP Regular. His traditional portrait paintings have been selected for display 12 times for the BP Portrait Award in 2002, and 2006 to 2016. This is the first time he has been shortlisted for a prize.

His portrait is of the poet Hugo Williams and was the only one of the three paintings which demonstrates torso, head and hands. You can read more about the portrait in the post about the shortlist (see end of this post)

This is an article in the Huffington Post about titled Snapshot of the Poet in the Portrait

Benjamin Sullivan (b. 1977) lives in Suffolk. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating with a BA (Hons) in Drawing and Painting in 2000.  He's the youngest person ever to be elected as a member of the New English Art Club (2001) and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (2003). He regularly exhibits at the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (the last exhibition included the drawing for this painting). He also won the Lynn Painter Stainers Prize in 2007 which was the first time his work came to my attention.

Some would describe his paintings as traditional - however they are very much valued by some of the traditional institutions around the UK. He's also been an artist in residence - producing some wonderful paintings as a result - of All Soul’s College, Oxford, and the Reform Club, Pall Mall.

Benjamin already has work in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery having been commissioned by the NPG to paint cosmologist and astrophysicist Professor Martin Rees. In addition, his work can also be found in numerous public and private collections, including the the Royal Scottish Academy, Parliament House, Edinburgh, and several Oxford and Cambridge Colleges.

Benjamin Sullivan with daughter and prize - having his photo taken by Virginia in the background
Is that a tiny 'fist pump' for Dad?

Judges’ comments - Hugo

‘Finely rendered on a small scale, we thought the portrait gave us a strong sense of the presence of the sitter, the poet, Hugo Williams. The painting’s ageless quality is subtly balanced by the appearance of the modern wrist-watch.’
You can read more about the paintings of the prize-winning artists in my earlier blog post  £30,000 BP Portrait Award 2016 - The Shortlist

BP Young Artist Award: £7,000 

The artists eligible for the Young Artist Award are aged between 18 and 30. This year's winner is Jamie Coreth (b. 1989) for Dad Sculpting Me (1052 x 1202 mm, oil on linen)

Jamie Coreth being presented with the BP Young Artist Award 2016
Jamie Coreth, 26, was brought up in Dorset and Wiltshire, prior to studying for a BA (Hons) degree in archaeology and anthropology at Keble College, Oxford

He then changed tracks and next studied at the London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA) and the Florence Academy of Art. His work has been seen in group exhibitions in London.

He wins the prize for a portrait of his sculptor father, Mark Coreth, painted entirely from life over the course of a month in his sculpture studio. His father is working his old boiler suit from his days in tanks as an officer with the Blues and Royals - except now it's covered in big flecks of plaster from previous sculptures.  There's a great photo of father and son in the studio with the portrait on the home page of his website
‘My father has influenced me greatly in my work and given that it is a relatively strange thing for a sculptor to raise a painter, I thought it could be an interesting father–son project to make portraits of one another at the same time.’
Dad Sculpting Me by Jamie Coreth1052 x 1202 mm, oil on linen
(this is a still from my video of the exhibition and will br replaced by a photo tomorrow)

Judges’ comments – Dad Sculpting Me

‘We were drawn to the timeless quality of the painting and its treatment of a father and son relationship through art. It is a generational painting of the artist’s father sculpting a portrait of the artist.’

More about the BP Portrait Exhibition 2016

The competition was judged from original paintings by this year’s panel:

The Panel do not know who painted which portrait when making their selections. They spent two days at the beginning sorting through the 2,557 entries from 80 countries. Later they spent two days getting the artists invited to submit work down to those selected for the exhibition.

The BP Portrait Award 2016 Exhibition opens to the public on Thursday at the National Portrait Gallery until 4th September after which it tours to:
  • Usher Gallery, Lincoln (12 September – 13 November 2016) and 
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (26 November 2016 - 26 March 2017.)

Don't forget to check back to read more about this very prestigious competition. 
As per usual, this week I will be doing a series of blog posts about the exhibition including:
  • video interviews with the prizewinners 
  • photos of artists with their paintings 
  • my selection of the best of the rest 
  • a review of and video walk around the exhibition 
  • a post about the exhibition by the winner of the BP Travel Award 2015 and the winner of the BP Travel award 2016

Posts about the 2016 BP Portrait Award

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