Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BP Portrait Award 2017 - The Shortlist

The three artists shortlisted for the First Prize in the 38th BP Portrait Award are:
All the shortlisted portraits feature female sitters and are painted in three different media - egg tempera, oil and acrylic.  All the painters have previously had works selected for the BP exhibition. Each of them is guaranteed a prize - but only one has previously won a prize in this very prestigious art competition.

Below is a summary about each artist. The names of the first, second and third prizewinners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony, which will be on the evening of Tuesday 20th June. It must be nice to go to it as a shortlisted artist knowing the worst that can happen is you're coming away with a cheque for a considerable sum of money - somewhere between £8,000 and £30,000.

Tomorrow's blog post will be about the artists selected for the exhibition.  (Artists can start emailing me images of their portraits if they'd like to see them featured in the post)

The BP Portrait Award Exhibition will be on display at the following venues:
  • National Portrait Gallery, London all summer. It opens to the public on 22 June and continues until 24 September 2017 (Admission Free)
  • Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery Exeter (4 October – 3 December 2017); 
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (December 2017 – March 2018); 
  • Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens (March – June 2018.)

Artists shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2017

This highly successful annual event is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work.
The prizes for this competition, which attracts entries from all over the world, are as follows
  • First Prize: £30,000 plus a commission worth £5,000 to paint a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection, to be agreed between the Gallery and the artist. 
  • Second Prize: £10,000 
  • Third Prize: £8,000.
In terms of the competition as a whole:
  • The Entry: The shortlist of three was selected from 2,580 portraits by artists from 87 countries (the entry is limited to one portrait per artist). 
  • Selected Artists: Tomorrow's blog post will be about who got selected for the exhibition. I'll be linking their websites to the names of the artists and doing a brief synopsis of the artist and their work.
  • The Best of the Rest: the closing date for How to enter my BP Portrait "Best of the Rest" 2017- of those not selected - is Friday.

Thomas Ehretsmann

Double Portrait by Thomas Ehretsmann
(300 x 400mm, Acrylic on board)
Age: 42 (Born in Mulhouse France in 06.07.1974)
Nationality: French
Occupation: artist and illustrator. His illustration work has been featured in the New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Elle Magazine.
Current home:
Art education: a degree in illustration from the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs, Strasbourg
Previous appearances in this award: Vacuum 2 was selected for the BP Portrait Award 2016 exhibition
Title / Media: Double Portrait (300 x 400mm, Acrylic on board)
Subject: Double Portrait captures a moment when the artist was walking in the park with his wife, Caroline. The title, Double Portrait, suggest the passage from one state of being to another as Caroline was eight months pregnant at the time.
Ehretsmann was struck by the light on Caroline’s face which he said reminded him of the work of naturalist painters Jules Bastien-Lepage and Emile Friant. 
I met Thomas last year - see BP Portrait Award 2016 - Artists with their paintings - so this is the first year for me that I've met all three artists prior to the announcement!

This year, as last, his paintings comprises multiple layers of semi-transparent acrylic paint - painted in very small hatching marks. He's also a master of tone control in muted and darker passages of the painting.

I met Thomas last year at the preview

Benjamin Sullivan

I've had Ben Sullivan 'tagged' as a future BP Portrait First Prizewinner for as long as I've been writing this blog and covering this competition!

He paints absolutely beautifully and also captures extremely good likenesses of everybody he paints.

He's exhibited in every BP Portrait Exhibition every year since 2006. I love the fact that in addition to his regular commissions, he also paints his family. It was wonderful to finally meet up with Ginnie and Edith, their new baby, at last year's Awards Ceremony when Ben won 3rd Prize. She was such a big hit with everybody, I'm not in the least bit surprised in the choice for this year's portrait!

Breech! by Benjamin Sullivan
(820 x 400mm, oil on canvas)
  • Age: 39 (10.05.1977 - born Grimsby) 
  • Nationality: British
  • Occupation: established portrait artist, member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters
  • Current home: Suffolk
  • Art education: BA (Hons) in Drawing and Painting from Edinburgh College of Art
  • Previous appearances in this award: 12 times - 2002 and continuously 2006-2016
  • Previous notable portraits for this award: 3rd Prizewinner in 2016 with Hugo
  • Previous commissions for the National Portrait Gallery Collection: portrait of cosmologist and astrophysicist Professor Martin Rees (2008)
  • Exhibitions: regularly exhibits at the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibition
  • Website
  • Title / Media: Breech! (820 x 400mm, oil on canvas)
  • Subject: the artist’s wife Virginia breastfeeding their eight-month-old daughter Edith
Breech! is about a time when Sullivan says ‘a sense of calm descended after the usual period of disarrangement that new parents face.’
The artist wanted to celebrate the love that had come into their lives and reflect on the worrisome time the couple faced during Edith’s birth. The painting was made over four to five weeks in the artist’s studio when Edith’s cooperation was forthcoming.
Regular readers will recall Edith has the distinction of being the very first baby to appear at a BP Awards Ceremony and had a prominent role in last year's ceremony. She was very well behaved!

Edith behaving extremely well on the podium at the BP Prizewinning Ceremony
when her Dad won 3rd prize.
Flanked by Jessica Ennis-Hill, Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the NPG and Bob Dudley, Chair of BP
I do so hope we're not going to see Ben Sullivan follow in the footsteps of Michael Gaskell - always the bridesmaid and never the bridge. Although as Michael pointed out to me, getting selected and never winning means repeat appearances in the exhibition and much publicity for his portraits and commissions!

You'll be able to see one of Ben's latest portrait commissions at the Annual Exhibition of the royal Society of Portrait Painters at the Mall Galleries next month (4th-19th May 2017).

Antony Williams

Emma by Antony Williams
(690 x560mm, Egg tempera on board) 
  • Age: (23.06.1964) 
  • Nationality: British
  • Occupation: established portrait artist, member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters
  • Current home:
  • Art education: Farnham College and Portsmouth University
  • Previous appearances in this award: 1995, 1998, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2014 and 2015
  • Previous notable portraits for this award: 
  • Previous commissions for the National Portrait Gallery Collection: portrait of Amartya Sen
  • Exhibitions: solo exhibitions in London and Madrid; Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition; regularly exhibits with Royal Society of Portrait Painters
  • Website
  • Title / Media: Emma (690 x560mm, Egg tempera on board) 
  • Subject: Emma Bruce who had been modelling for Williams almost continuously for eleven years in his studio in Chertsey
The artist’s relationship with the sitter has developed over the years from that of being someone who was modelling for a painting to someone who has become a friend. Williams wanted to portray some of her vulnerability, but also the determination in her character where she is shown naked but at the same time is preventing the viewer from seeing her completely.
Those of us familiar with Antony's work know that this painting is a complex web of tiny brushstrokes of egg tempera. He's probably the most well-known painter of egg tempera in the UK. I've certainly seen very many of his portrait drawing and paintings over the years which have always impressed.

Below is a photo of Antony with his portrait of Right Honourable Margaret Becket MP, commissioned by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art in 2011 in recognition of Beckett’s long and distinguished parliamentary career. It won the £10,000 Ondaatje Prize at the 2012 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

Winner of the £10,000 Ondaatje Prize and Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters
Rt. Hon Margaret Beckett MP by Antony Williams RP PS NEAC

egg tempera, 137 x 111cm (54 x 43 inches)

© Antony Williams

Judging Panel

The prize winners and exhibition were selected by a judging panel chaired by Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery. The full panel included:
  • Camilla Hampshire, Museums Manager and Cultural Lead, Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter; 
  • Michael Landy, artist; 
  • Kirsty Wark, broadcaster; 
  • Sarah Howgate, Senior Curator, Contemporary Collections, National Portrait Gallery; and 
  • Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts & Culture, BP.
'I am delighted with this year’s shortlist and the final selection of works for the exhibition, all of which provoked an immediate response from the judges – whether that be a reaction to the skill displayed by a particular artist, or a more visceral connection with the sitter, subject matter or the mood conveyed.’Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Chair of the Judges and Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London

More about the BP Portrait Exhibition 2017

In future weeks, I will publish:
  • the list of artists selected for the exhibition (tomorrow)
  • the awards ceremony 
  • video interviews with the prizewinners 
  • pics of artists with their paintings
  • a review and video of the exhibition
Below are blog posts about earlier exhibitions on Making A Mark.
  • Note these include links to my videos of the exhibition.
  • If you just want the videos then go to the BP Portrait and Travel Awards Playlist on my YouTube Channel

BP Portrait Award 2016

Call for Entries: 
Selected Artists: 

BP Portrait Award 2015

Call for Entries:

    BP Portrait Award 2014

      BP Portrait Award 2013

        BP Portrait Award 2012

          BP Portrait Award 2011

          BP Portrait Award 2010

            BP Portrait Award 2009

            BP Portrait Award 2008 

              BP Portrait Award 2007

              More information

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