Sunday, August 07, 2016

London Portraits by Carl Randall

Carl Randall's London Portraits - on display at the National Portrait Gallery

When Carl Randall won the BP Travel Award in 2012, he produced an exhibition of portraits of the people of Japan at the National Portrait Gallery the following year which demonstrates a cross-section of old and new Japanese society and placed all the people in the context of both traditional and contemporary Japanese places.  

'In The Footsteps of Hiroshige: The Tokaido Highway and Portraits of Modern Japan' proved to be very striking and memorable and you can see the images and read my thoughts on his paintings in my review Carl Randall's Japan - the best BP Travel Award Exhibition ever!

Now he's back at the National Portrait Gallery in 2016 with a new series of portraits - this time of London and featuring places in London.

London Portraits

His most recent project is called ‘London Portraits’.  This is a series of 15 portraits of people who have contributed to British culture and society.  His Japanese influenced style makes for a very different sort of portraits and they're very striking.

He met all the participants in person and asked each of them to choose a place in London which was meaningful to them for the background of their portraits.

A documentary video ‘London Portraits’ has been made which shows the making of the paintings and sitters explaining their choice of location.  Do watch it - it's really interesting about process and sitters.

Documentary about Carl Randall's 'London Portraits' 
11:06mins. © Hawkeye Productions 2016.

The participants

Jon Snow - presenter of the Channel 4 Evening News
in the Channel 4 studios

© Carl Randall
  • Newscaster Jon Snow - who as usual has a very luminous tie for newscasting!  (I sketched Jon Snow once in the Restaurant at the top of the National Portrait Gallery.) 
  • Comedienne Jo Brand - outside the Comedy Store in Oxendon Street
Comedienne Jo Brand
outside the Comedy Store

© Carl Randall
  • Animator Nick Park - (of Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep fame) in the Dinosaur Gallery
  • Illustrator Raymond Briggs - outside 65 Ashen Grove where he was born and brought up
  • Novelist David Mitchell - in St Paul's Cathedral
Novelist David Mitchell
in the Whispering Gallery in St the dome of St Paul's Cathedral
© Carl Randall
  • Actress Katie Leung - outside The Shed on the Southbank
  • Poet Benjamin Zephaniah - in Epping Forest
  • Illustrator Dave McKean in front of St Giles Church
  • Movie producer Jeremy Thomas - outside Bar Italia
  • Film-maker Julian Temple - outside Temple Station
  • Poet Simon Armitage - outside the Royal Festival Hall
  • Dancer Akram Khan - in a skate park
  • Zoologist Desmond Morris - at London Zoo
  • Actor Antony Sher and Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company Greg Doran - at the Noel Coward Theatre
  • Actress Julie Walters - across the River Thames from the concrete monolith known as the National Theatre
Julie Walters
with the National Theatre in the background

© Carl Randall
The portraits are available as prints from the National Portrait Gallery. You'll find a display of them in the basement next to the cafe.

Display of the London Portraits as prints next to the NPG cafe


  1. The video is a brilliant way of making the viewer realise what the artist is really about. Such a combination of styles between the backgrounds and main subjects. Thanks for this, it really is a great posting.

  2. Such a unique talent, one of the few artists who have truly taken advantage of the BP Travel Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibitions of Carl Randall and Stuart Pearson Wright a few years back were awesome, awe inspiring! They got an opportunity and went for it, much respect. Great article and coverage from Making A Mark as usual. Best wishes, Mark


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