Thursday, December 02, 2010

CALL FOR ENTRIES: BP Portrait Award 2011

BP Portrait Award 2011 - Call for Entries
The National Portrait Gallery have published their Call for Entries for the BP Portrait Award 2011 This post provides:
  • an overview of the requirements for all those who would like to enter a portrait
  • links to past exhibitions and reviews on this blog

First of all, congratulations to fellow blogger Ilaria Rosselli del Turco whose portrait has been used for the Call for Entries poster and the website!

The closing date for this very prestigious competition is Thursday 10th February 2011 and you can find out who can enter and how to enter below.
The Portrait Award, now in its thirty-second year at the National Portrait Gallery and twenty-second year of sponsorship by BP, is an annual event aimed at encouraging artists to focus upon and develop portraiture in their work.
Who can enter

Basically if you are over 18, live anywhere in the world and can paint a portrait of a human figure then you should study the entry requirements!

Winners of this competition tend to enjoy very significant benefits to their careers after winning the BP Portrait Award. Just to be selected for the exhibition is a very real and significant achievement.
Many artists who have had their work exhibited have gained commissions as a result of the considerable interest in the Portrait Award and the resulting exhibition.
BP Portrait Prize: The competition is open to all artists living anywhere in the world who are aged 18 and over on 1st January 2011.

This is in recognition of the outstanding and innovative work currently being produced by artists of all ages working in portraiture.

BP Young Artists Award: All entrants from the 18-30 age group will automatically be considered for both the BP Young Artist Award and the BP Portrait Award, but an individual cannot win both.

Artists must be 30 years of age or under on 1 January 2011 to be eligible for the BP Young Artist Award.

BP Travel Award: All 2011 exhibitors will be eligible to submit a proposal for the BP Travel Award.

The aim of the Award is to provide the opportunity for an artist to experience working in a different environment, in Britain or abroad, on a project related to portraiture which will then be shown as part of the BP Portrait Award 2012 exhibition and tour in 2012-13.

The BP Portrait Award 2011 exhibition will run at the National Portrait Gallery from 16 June to 18 September 2011.

As always, the winners and selected entries will be exhibited first at the National Portrait Gallery, London before touring the country. Dates and venues are as follows
  • National Portrait Gallery - Thursday 16 June – Sunday 18 September 2011.
  • venue to be announced - dates in 2010-11 to be announced
  • venue to be announced - dates in 2010-11 to be announced


The awards are as follows:
  • the first prize is a cash award of £25,000, plus, at the judges' discretion, a commission worth £4,000, to be agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist.
  • two runner-up prizes (2nd Prize £8,000; 3rd prize £6,000)
  • the BP Young Artist Award of £5,000 for entrants under the age of 30 on the 1st January 2009 - which aims to continue to competition's role as a showcase for young artistic talent.
  • BP Travel Award 2009: £5,000.

Those short-listed for prizes must attend the Awards Ceremony and dinner on the evening of Tuesday 14 June 2011 and are also expected to attend the Press View on the morning of Wednesday 15 June 2011.

How to Enter

Last things first - the deadline for your entry forms and entry fees is Thursday 10th February 2011.

Entry forms
You'll only find out where and when to submit your work if you complete the registration and send the entry fee.
  • Download the entry form here
  • request a postal entry form call 020 7321 6699  
  • Or obtain an entry form by post from the address below
All forms for the BP Portrait Award 2011 need to be
  • registered online 
  • OR returned to: BP Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE
You will find out whether or not your work has been selected for exhibition by Wednesday 6 April 2011. All correspondence with artists will be via email - and it's up to you to chekc your email!

The Rules

There is nothing more frustrating than to create a work for a competition and then to realise that it isn't eligible or you can't present it in the right way at the right time!

The Rules  - there are a lot of rules and they're written in small type on the website so do take the time to read them very carefully. (Remember also that using the Control and + key can enlarge type on your screen).

Note in particular that works can be disqualified even if selected for exhibition if they have not adhered to the rules!

The rules - who you are

In brief are:
  • the competition is open to all those aged over 18 on 1.1.11.
  • each artist is limited one entry per artist.
  • The work must have been completed after 1 January 2010.
  • Those not eligible for entry are employees of the National Portrait Gallery, BP, and their agents, and previous first prize-winners of the Portrait Award since 1980.
The rules - nature of the work

The work entered
  • MUST be predominantly painted in oil, tempera or acrylic
  • MUST be on a stretcher or board, preferably framed and unglazed. (No watercolours, works on paper or pastels will be considered - although I am fighting the battle for pastels to be admitted at some point!)
  • SHOULD be a painting based on a sitting or study from life
  • AND the human figure MUST predominate.
The Minimum size: 25 x 20cm (10” x 8”) unframed. Smaller works will not be considered.

The rules - submission summary
  • Entry forms and registration fees must be submitted to the NPG by 14th February 2011
  • All entrants will be notified if their work is selected (or not) for exhibition by 6th April 2010
  • There are lots of very detailed requirements as to submission and collection of the actual painting - I've summarised some below but there is more and my advice is to read it all very carefully!
  • All artists will need to insure their works
  • International artists should also pay particular attention to their financial liabilities (eg import duties etc) and what they are required to do.
  • The Gallery is not responsible for wrapping works or providing wrapping materials
    for any works being returned to artists located in the UK and charges a fee to international artists.
  • All correspondence with artists will be via email!
  • The artist is responsible for checking their email to see whether your artwork has been selected or rejected.

Delivery Dates

Paintings need to be delivered to one of the following collection points on the specific dates listed below during the times specified.  Paintings delivered to the National Portrait Gallery will NOT be accepted.

Note in particular the very important points in the detailed rules about packaging ie all hand deliveries to collection points have to be unpackaged and packing materials will not be retained by the Gallery.

Regional Delivery Dates
  • Belfast Wed 9 – Fri 11 March 2011 10.00–16.00
  • Bristol Wed 9 – Wed 11 March 2011 10.00–16.00
  • Coatbridge, near Glasgow Wed 9 – Fri 11 March 2011 10.00–18.00
  • Leeds Wed 9 – Wed 17 March 2011 12.00–17.00
London - Post/Courier Delivery Dates
  • London For works arriving by post or courier: Mon 14 March –Thurs 24 March 2011, 09.00–17.00 (excluding weekends)
Delivery Dates - Hand delivery in person to London Collection Point
  • For works delivered in person:
    Mon 21 March 2011 09.00–17.00
    Tues 22 March 2011 09.00–17.00
    Wed 23 March 2011 09.00–20.00
    Thurs 24 March 2011 09.00–20.00
  • No entries will be accepted at the London collection point after 20.00 on Thursday 24 March 2011. A Gallery representative will provide a receipt on delivery of the work.
International Artists:  There are a number of detailed rules for submissions by international artists.  Essentially you are wholly responsible for customs and any duties payable and all costs of shipping, unpacking and packing materials. 

Return of work not selected

All unselected works must be collected from the address to which they were originally delivered on the dates listed in the rules, during the times specified. Works cannot be returned to a different collection point. Works not collected from the following collection points by the dates specified will be charged for at the carrier's usual storage rates.

The entire competition is judged, on an equal and anonymous basis, from original paintings. There is no segregated judging by region or country
Last year over 2,000 artists submitted their work and the exhibition, which featured fifty eight paintings, was seen by over 280,000 people at the National Portrait Gallery.

Further Information from the NPG

If your question is not answered by information provided on the website or in the information leaflet you can contact: BP Portrait Award 2010
  • National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2H 0HE
  • 020 7321 6600
So you want to know more about the BP Portrait Award ?

For those wanting to find out more about artists who have won this award in the past, my information site Portraiture - Resources for Artists now includes a module which provides a complete listing of all the BP Portrait Award winners - then and now.

This section of the website lists:
  1. links to the image which won the first prize in the BP Portrait Awards (if available - for some reason the NPG website seems to failed to archive some of the exhibitions and winners) and
  2. the winning artist's current website (if available).
You can also find out more about past competitions in my posts from previous years detailed below

So that's it - good luck if you decide to enter!  One prizewinner has actually won as a result of reading this post in a previous year! :)

More about the BP Portrait Award

Bookmark this blog if you want to see future blog posts about the BP Portrait Award which will feature in due course:
These are all posts for earlier exhibitions on Making A Mark. You can find all posts on Portraiture - Resources for Artists

BP Portrait Award 2009

BP Portrait Award 2008 and 2007


  1. Thank you Katherine, and best of luck to everyone who enters!

  2. Dear Katherine

    I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for such an inspiring blog, and one that is actually very useful!

    I have entered the BP Portrait Award (the 1st time in 10 years) this year and I have to say that I have done so with help directly from yourself! I can also see why my entry failed to be selected in 2001.

    I find the pictures you take showing the actual entries to be of the most help. I like to see the way the artists have framed their works and the scale of them. Although I visited the prize last year I forgot instantly a lot of the details that I tried to remember!

    Although I'm not overly confident that my entry will be selected for the prize, as it is on the more painterly side, I do feel confident that I have followed the rules correctly.

    Also the judges for this years award are:

    this year's judges are Iwona Blazwick (Director, Whitechapel Gallery), Paul Emsley (Artist), Jonathan Jones (Art Critic, Guardian), Sandy Nairne (Director, National Portrait Gallery), and Des Violaris (Director, UK Arts & Culture, BP).

    I got this information from the NPGs Facebook page and thought it might be of some interest to other entrants.

    Thank you again, I can't wait to read your articles on this year's prize.



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