Sunday, April 07, 2019

Feedback from Battersea Arts Centre PAOTY 2020 Heats

Next week there are FIVE more Heats of Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 at the Battersea Arts Centre for:
  • Heats 5-8 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 - on Monday 8th - Thursday 11th April (10am - 4pm)
  • Celebrity Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 - on Friday 12th April - when celebrities paint celebrities. I'm thinking of going back for that one! (see my review of last year's programme Celebrity Portrait Artist of the Year)
I went on Friday and I recommend you go if you get the chance. I'd very definitely recommend that all those who hope to participate in future go along and see what's like for real.

How to get there 

The Heats are being filmed in the Grand Hall at the Battersea Arts Centre - see The PAOTY Trek to Battersea Arts Centre.

For those coming from other parts of London, the easiest way there is to make your way to Victoria Station and then catch a train to Clapham Junction. The walk to the centre is then uphill - up Lavender Hill - and takes about 10-15 minutes.

There are lots of vegan / organic / coffee / smoothie etc temptations along the way!!!  I highly recommend the Whole Foods Market!

For those coming by car, you need to be aware that the area has controlled parking. There is a car park at Asda - with free parking for customers for 2 hours only. For those wanting to use it all day I tried peering at the parking charges sign and it looked like it was £15 for more than 4 hours.  Plus you still need to shop at Asda!  (Note for those who live out of London, all supermarket car parks have very stiff charges for those wanting to park most of the day - in order to deter commuter parking)

For artists

The space is MUCH better from the artists' perspective.  Location maybe not so much for those who are travelling long distances.  Moving it down to Battersea increases journey times by at least 30 minutes for most people.

The lighting is MUCH MUCH better controlled.
  • All the external natural light has been obscured by blinds on the windows.
  • The three segments and artists are lit by good lights with a baffle mesh front - so no spot effects and good diffuse lighting

For those who go to watch

The notice at the entrance to the filming

No tickets are required and entry is free - and you can come and go during the course of the day.

The Heats are open to the public and filmed between 10am and 4pm. Artists are there earlier and stay later. Lunch is around about 12.30pm It then starts again after a break of about an hour.  The Heat finishes for the public at 4pm after the sitters have chosen their preferred portrait.

Lots of people were watching on Friday - many more than at the Wallace Collection. It feels like a larger space and, apart from two pinchpoints, it's easier to move around the room.

Reasons to go 

Reasons to go are you can see:
  • how people work - how some start strongly and fade away while others look like they'll never get going and finish strongly
  • how the programme gets made
  • the extent to which artists get interrupted by interviews, asked to go outside for photography - and why the realistic painting time is probably nearer three hours than four hours
  • the self-portrait wall - up close
  • You may spot participants from previous series - I had a lovely chat with Geoff Harris who won of the Heats in PAOTY 2019 and who had come along to have a look at the new venue. 
The best bit is listening to the Judges discuss the chances of the artists at half time (which is when they start up again in the afternoon - in front of the the self-portrait wall)!

Plus you get to guess which portrait the sitter will choose. I got two right and one was a complete surprise.

Do NOT BRING bags or buggies
In terms of practical matters:
  • Unlike the Wallace Collection, there is no cloakroom at the Centre - so nowhere to leave coats and jackets or large bags
    • There are no coat racks - so there were lots of people all clutching their cold weather jackets and coats are watching the PAOTY activities!
    • Given it's too warm to wear your coat all day - so bring one that is easy to carry or tie around your waist.
    • You cannot bring a bag larger than cabin bag size
    • You cannot bring a buggy in.
  • There is a large cafe - and I gather from one of the other people who attended that the bacon butties are fabulous!
However, there are no chairs - except for the Judges and presenters - making it elderly/disabled unfriendly for those of us who need to sit down periodically.  However one was found for me when I mentioned I can't stand for long periods.  Apparently the Centre is disabled friendly...... :)

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