Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Edward Sutcliffe wins BP Travel Award 2014

Edward Sutcliffe with Copycat - with Li Wu Da
Oil on canvas, 150 x 60cm

This is the proposal which won Edward Sutcliffe the BP Travel Award 2014 (£6,000).

Any artist who submits work for the BP Portrait Award can also submit a proposal for the BP Travel Award - but your proposal is only reviewed if you are selected for exhibition.

The Travel Award is based on the idea that an artist of merit should have the opportunity to work in a different environment on a project related to portraiture. The portraits painted as a result of the project then receive their own mini exhibition in the following year’s Portrait Exhibition.  Which means you are then able to say you have had an exhibition of your work in the National Portrait Gallery!

The proposals have been wide-ranging and have resulted in exhibitions which appear to have an ever increasing high standard. So if you submit beware you have a very high standard to live up to.

‘Straight Outta Compton’ BP Travel Award Proposal 2014 – Portraits from Compton Cricket Club

A few miles south of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood lies Compton, an area of Los Angeles synonymous with poverty and crime. It was from this environment twenty years ago that Compton Cricket Club was formed as an initiative to help encourage and empower the disaffected youth of a neighbourhood pulsing with gangs and lawlessness. It is their amazing story, rich in character and powerful in emotion that I am inspired to paint.

It is my ambition to Travel to Los Angeles this summer and witness this wonderful group of people that have transformed their lives through Compton Cricket Club. By spending as much time with the team as possible (whether on the pitch or in their everyday lives) and seeing the impact playing cricket has had on these amazing individuals from some of L.A.'s toughest streets, I will be able draw, paint and document the players, producing a group of astonishing portraits to be included in next year’s exhibition.

Cricket is a wonderfully chivalrous game that has never lost its Victorian ethos of fair play and I want my work from this project to be a series of startling paintings that fuse the starched whites and leather on willow (typified so vividly in the portraits on display at Lords) with tattoos, low slung jeans, and baseball caps that have come to symbolise the distinctive visual culture of South Central Los Angeles.

I have recently made contact with Katy Haber, the founder of Compton Cricket club and the club captain , Ted Hayes. Since the formation of the club they have both helped to arrange tours to the UK, Australia and are even currently arranging a trip to South Africa. They are both very excited about the possibility of my visit and feel it would be fantastic for the club. They have suggested where and when I should visit and would be invaluable in helping me to successfully complete this project.

Travelling for three weeks this summer will give me enough time to gather all the source material to produce a series of paintings for the following June. Budgeting £1000 for flights, £2500 for accommodation and living expenses, £700 for equipment for the trip and a further £1500 for materials and framing, I can successfully complete this project for under £6,000.

I believe that having this opportunity will enable me to create an exhibition of portraits that show an amazing visual fusion of two very different cultures and tell a wonderful story of the people that have fallen for the game of cricket embracing it's ethos of fair play and honestly.
   Edward SutcliffeApril 2014

More about past years of the BP Travel Award 

See my previous posts on this blog

Copycat by Edward Sutcliffe with Li Wu Da

Edward Sutcliffe is an 'old hand' at the BP Portrait Award. He has had work included in the exhibition in 2000, 2007, 2009-2012. His painting this year is of John Myatt - a well known art forger. Sutcliffe works in a highly realistic style and is interested in the processes of copying and mimicry, He commissioned Chinese artist Li Wu Da to paint the appended distorted mirror image of the portrait at the foot of the panel to add a further copy and reinterpretation.

What I liked most about this portrait is that on the face of it looks highly realistic until you look at it closely. That's when you realise that the skin is made up of an intense pattern of calligraphic type squiggles. In a way it's akin to a Chuck Close painting which looks very real at a distance and much less so close up.  It's abstraction within realism - something I've always found very curious and entertaining and so much more interesting than a straight copy of a photograph!


  1. This a fascinating post for me since Compton is so close to where I live, the UK is so far and I had no idea there was even a Cricket Club in Compton of all places! I would never have guessed.
    I actually had to look it up. There is a good history of it on Wikipedia as well as their own site.

    As Edward Sutcliffe writes in his statement they are "...two very different cultures..." and they really are if you have ever been to Compton.
    What a great juxtaposition it is and a great idea for the Travel award. Happy to see him win.
    I will be interested to see the results from his travels there (here).

    On that note Katherine do you plan on showing us a review, video or pics post, of last years winner Sophie Ploeg and her work resulting from the past year?
    I would like to see a video walk-through of her mini exhibition.

  2. Yes to Sophie - but I've been having a bit of a health hiccup.


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