Friday, June 19, 2015

Michael Gaskell (2nd Prize BP Portrait 2015) - a video interview

Apologies to those who sat and waited last night for this video interview with Michael Gaskell who this week won the second prize of £10,000 in the BP Portrait Award 2015.

I've finally found a work round for the appalling broadband problems I've been having while enormous holes are dug in the road next to the BT Street box!

Michael Gaskell BP Portrait Award 2015 - 2nd prizewinner
Michael has now won the second prize FOUR TIMES!  He last won 2nd prize in 2010 didn't submit work for five years, submitted a new portrait this year and won 2nd prize again - with his very first portrait painting in acrylic!

He is "Mr Consistent". He's also one of the artists I'd want to shortlist the person I'd want painting any children I had....

The video was filmed in the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Apologies for my "shouty" voice - there was a considerable din from artists chatting to artists in the preview! :)

In the video you can hear him talking about:
I have to confess, I think a lot of people are secretly pleased that Michael did not win first prize as it means he gets to submit work again in future! :)

By way of contrast, consider the experience of this year's winner Matan Ben Cnaan, (like Thomas Ganter last year and Aleah Chapin in 2012) who enter once - and win - and never ever return! That's because because all artists winning the prize cannot enter again.

I've got a number of other videos to share with you about the BP Portrait Award. These are:
  • a quick trot around the exhibition for those of you who can't get to London
  • an interview with Matan Ben Cnaan who won first prize
  • an interview with Lee Myles Simmonds, age 18 who has yet to start art school but has a very good portrait in the exhibition
  • an interview with Edward Sutcliffe and Katie Haber about his BP Travel Award project about the Compton Cricket Club in south Los Angeles.
I have my fingers crossed the current solution that the videos will upload and publish without a problem.


  1. As a painter and tutor I am dismayed at the photo realistic styles becoming successful. Where are the expressive and painterly portraits. Third prize was a much better painting with emotion and love.

  2. Did you art education include art history? Were Van Eyck and Vermeer photo-realistic?

  3. Yes art history is part of every painter's vocabulary. Van Eyck and Vermeer painted wonderful evocative portraits but still left a mark of a painter. Contemporary artists are brilliant and gifted with incredible resolve but in my opinion produce work that does not inspire me nor encourage my students to paint with flair and expression. Each to their own, the wonder of art!

  4. Have you actually seen the painting or are you actually commenting on a photograph?

    I can tell you that the video does NOT do the painting justice.

  5. No, I haven't seen the painting but that doesn't matter. I'm commenting on the prevalence of the genre, which I dislike.

  6. Exactly - you're expressing your own particular PREFERENCE as to which type of painting you THINK is better. That's an OPINION not a fact.

    However you're doing it on a blog post which is about a specific artist and a specific painting which you have not seen in person.

    Thus your critique is not well evidenced in relation to the specific topic of this post.

    If you want to reference the third prize then make sure you do it on the appropriate post - which is the prizewinners post

    By all means comment on the general state of play of portrait painting on an article or blog post which is about precisely that e.g. my review of the exhibition - when I write it.

    It's not a requirement of all artists to paint the same way you like painting.
    Nor is it a good idea for art teachers to suggest there is only one right way to paint.
    You might want to ponder on that one before you comment in the future on a specific painting.

  7. Thanks Katherine for your comments and you are right in making the point of the appropriate forum to comment. However to finalise my point; I am simply making my opinion and preference which I am entitled regarding the genre of photo realism and it's prevalence in prize winning positions which actually is relevant in this case. I teach art to adults and my drive is not to encourage a style but to encourage their own through the development of seeing and expression. There is quite rightly room for all styles and personal messsages through painting, I'm sure you will agree. In the case of this painter and his work I have great respect and seeing his previous entries I am aware of his talent. I still feel disappointed that more expressive and wish fewer reproductive works would be judged to make prize winning positions. I do not judge in your words 'better' as those words do not live within such a subjective environment, only different.

  8. My point Max is it is much better to make comments about things you have seen in person.

    Having had discussions with the Judges at the Award Ceremony last week it is very evident that this year an effort was made to widen out the styles of portraits which were accepted for the exhibition. I think they succeeded. It's certainly the case that the range of styles is wider than it has been for a while and that selected portraits include "expressive" paintings. If you had been to the exhibition (and previous exhibitions) you would see this is the case.

    I don't think you can EVER make a sound judgement about which portrait should have won until you have seen them all in person. I think a lot of people could make a case for the shortlist having been a different selection of portraits.

    However the point - for all art competitions - is that the judgement is made by a panel of selectors (or one judge) and their judgement is the only one that matters when it comes to giving out the prizes.

    Anybody who has been around art competitions for any length of time will know that the decision of the panel is not always congruent with the public or artists or art teachers. It is what is it is - a stated preference by a set of people at a point in time.

    What I take exception to is you making the point you made in the first comment with absolutely no recognition whatsoever that this is a post is purely about Michael Gaskell, whose paintings - as wholly anonymous entries - have won second prize four times in this competition. So far as I am aware this is a feat unparalleled by any other artist in the history of the competition.

    Your first post, in this context, is the blogging equivalent of gatecrashing a gourmet dinner party and then complaining that none of the dishes being served are what you like to eat and asking where's the nearest takeaway. That's just plain disrespectful!

  9. Ok point taken, that may be true and I accept it was inappropriate.
    I suggest however you come down from your high horse and consider that you are speaking to an experienced and successful painter and tutor of over 40 years. I am well aware of how the judging works so perhaps you might like to retract your comments in alluding to my lack of understanding and also be a little more respectful. I don't know you or your background but suggest that you might like to be a little more thoughtful in your responses.
    Being indignant has a relevance only fit for those that carry a dogma that will not see the other persons view. I have seen this artists work and repeat my initial comment that I wish the judging would award more expressive and looser styles, I am bored with photo realism.
    I cannot change the way I think or feel about it.

  10. My comments policy dated 10 January 2006

    I suggest you read it if you want to make any further comments. You are now teetering on the edge of having your last comment removed.

    I note you haven't been blogging for very long and I assume that also means you also haven't been commenting on blogs for very long either.

    Can I suggest you'll invariably find it helpful to check out who somebody is before posting a comment on their blog for the first time. Checking out their attitude to comments is always a good move. Restricting your comments to the topic of a post is always a good move.

    I checked who you were (re website blog etc) after your first post - as I always do when people are new to commenting on my blog.

  11. Beautiful portrait..I have`nt seen it in real life but I can see even in a photograph the quality of the work. I personally don`t feel it lacks feeling at all on the contrary ...just my opinion!


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