Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Bulldog Bursary - an apprenticeship in portraiture

(Left) Self-portrait by Joe Galvin (right) Dr Glyn Rhys by Joe Galvin
copyright Joe Galvin

Would you like to train as a portrait painter? Apprenticeship has a long history - Michaelangelo was apprenticed to Domenico Ghirlandaio; Ingres and Gericault learned from Jacques-Louis David and Joshua Reynolds studied with Thomas Hudson. Today, however, the opportunities to learn through working alongside peers are very limited.

The Bulldog Bursary is that rare privilege - an educational project and a national bursary created to promote professional and artistic development within the field of painted portraiture. It's a prize which is subject to competition and comprises:
  • a bursary of £5,000,
  • studio space at the Art Academy, close to Tate Modern and
  • most importantly, it offers a talented up and coming artist the opportunity to work alongside and be mentored by the members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP).
Joe Galvin was the first winner and apprentice to receive a Bulldog Bursary in 2007. A recent commission, introduced by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, for Rossall School shows how his work has developed over the year.
(It was) a fantastic insight into the practice of contemporary portraiture in the UK. Nowhere else is it possible to acquire the body of knowledge regarding portrait painting, and figurative painting in general
Joe Galvin
The bursary runs for the academic year beginning September 2008 and the winner is then invited to exhibit completed bursary work at the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in May of the following year.

The second winner of the bursary, Daniel Shadbolt (age 28) now takes over the apprenticeship for the 2008/9 academic year. He expects to be pushing the aspects of scale as he will have the freedom and time to work on a larger scale. Currently he is using a technique where by he re-stretches the canvas he has been working on and pushes the boundaries to a larger scale (see some of his more recent paintings here).

Self portrait with paintings
copyright Daniel Shadbolt

His completed bursary work will be exhibited at the annual exhibition of Royal Society of Portrait Painters in May 2009 (7 to 23 May 2009 at the Mall Galleries).

(1) The Bulldog Bursary receives financial support from the Bulldog Trust
(2) Application information for the Bulldog Bursary is posted on the website of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Any and all queries should be directed to the Federation of British Artists (home of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters) on 020 7930 6844 or via

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post about the opportunity that's so rare. Hardly anyone offers an apprenticeship of any sort for a beginning artist these days. And it's so much more valuable then going through traditional schooling I think. Thanks!


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