Tuesday, May 02, 2017

See Ed Sheeran in the National Portrait Gallery tomorrow

Tomorrow morning you can walk into the National Portrait Gallery and see Ed Sheeran with a big head.

NPG 7035: Edward Christopher (Ed) Sheeran (b.1991-)
by Colin Davidson (b.1968-)
Oil on linen, 2016 1270 mm x 1170 mm (50 in. x 46 in.)
© Colin Davidson

Or rather a rather large oil painting of his head.

It's the first portrait painting of Sheeran by a professional artist since he began his career as a musician.

The painting is by Colin Davidson who likes painting larger than life size paintings.  This particular painting is some around about four feet square - so that's a pretty "big head" (and there was me thinking we'd come to the end of the era of "big heads"!)

You can find it in Room 39, Ground Floor Lerner Contemporary Galleries, National Portrait Gallery, London, from 3 May 2017 (Admission free).

It appears that the proposal to paint a portrait followed a meeting between the artist and the singer's father John Sheeran (who, as it happens, is the former Curator of Dulwich Picture Gallery)

Ed then agreed to sit and the main sitting for the portrait was in August 2015. It's based on twenty drawings from life and reference photographs.

Davidson studied Sheeran intently for up to three hours which apparently Sheeran found fascinating, as the whole process contrasted to his fast-paced lifestyle.
‘When painting a portrait I am looking for the moment when the person is almost unaware of me being there and I feel I got it with Ed. I deliberately didn’t want Ed to perform and that was odd for him. But there is a youthful aspect to the portrait but also something experienced beyond his years.’ Colin Davidson
His larger-than-life paintings are explained as follows
‘They are all deliberately the same size; the idea is that everyone I paint is an equal and that format allows the face to become something else. If you see a painting of a face that is life-size, it never becomes anything else, it is a head. If it is smaller or bigger it can become something else’. Colin Davidson
Notable recent portraits he'd done include:
  • The Queen - commissioned by Co-Operation Ireland, of which the monarch is a joint patron - and unveiled by the Queen
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the cover of Time Magazine's Person of the Year edition in 2015 
Davidson is represented in the collections of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC, the Ulster Museum in Belfast and the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.

Facts about the sitter and the artist

Ed Sheeran

  • singer-songwriter, actor, guitarist and record producer 
  • one of the most successful musicians in contemporary British popular culture. 
  • His 2011 debut album, + (‘Plus’), reached platinum status six-times in the UK. 
  • The album featured the hit single “The A Team”, which received the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically and was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2013 Grammy Awards. S
  • Sheeran’s second album x (‘Multiply’) released in 2014, 
    • achieved number one in both the UK and US charts 
    • became the most-streamed album in the world for 2014. 
    • won British Album of the Year at the 2015 Brit Awards and his single ‘Thinking Out Loud’ earned him two Grammy Awards at the 2016 ceremony. 
  • The British singer-songwriter's third album ÷ (Divide), released in March 2017, 
    • debuted at No 1 on the Official UK Album Charts 
    • achieved 672,000 sales in its opening week 
    • made history as the fastest-selling album by a male artist.
I think that certainly justifies his "person of note" status meriting a portrait in the National Portrait Gallery. (i.e. additions to the Collection of the National portrait Gallery need to meet the criteria of those who have made an important contribution to British history and culture).

Well spotted Colin Davison for recognising an opportunity was there for the creating!

Colin Davidson

  • leading portrait artist based in Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • Art and Design degree (First Class Hons) from the University of Ulster, Belfast (1987-91) 
  • Honorary Degree for Art in 2016 from Queen’s University, Belfast. 
  • He has participated in the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Portrait Award three times in 2011-2013, winning the BP Portrait Award Visitor’s Choice Award in 2012 (see below - which I found in my folder for BP2012!)
The Dialects of Silence (Portrait of Michael Longley)
by Colin Davidson, 2012
  • Davidson’s recent portrait series, Silent Testimony, exhibited in 2015 at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, depicted eighteen individuals linked by privately endured experiences of loss that transformed their lives during the Troubles years in Northern Ireland. Seamus Heaney, Brad Pitt, Sir Kenneth Branagh and The Queen are among his many portrait subjects.
  • website http://www.colindavidson.com/
  • Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/colindavidsonart/

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