Wednesday, May 15, 2019

BP Portrait Award - The Thirty Year Vote - which is your favourite?

2019 mark's the 30th year of BP's sponsorship of the annual Portrait Award competition hosted and run by the National Portrait Gallery in London. 

So this year they're doing something a bit different.

On the 30 Year Vote page you can

  • see ALL of the portraits which won the BP Portrait Award between 1990 and 2018. 
  • you're invited to vote on your favourite winning work from the past 30 years
    • the place to vote lies just to the right of the portrait
    • I suggest you look at all 30 portraits - dating back to 1990 - BEFORE you vote - unless you already know which one you will vote for

At the very least it's an opportunity to see how many of the portrait paintings and portrait painters  you can remember!
(To find out more - and see them all one page next to one another - see the BP Portrait Award "Past Winners" page on the microsite - where you can see the image, image title, artist name - and that's it - no media and no size info)

The 30 Year Vote seems to have precipitated some minor campaigns being waged in terms of which portrait - and portrait painter - gets the most votes. Ben Canaan (Israel) was way out in front at the weekend - but I rather suspect some nursing Mummies have pulled Ben Sullivan back to the top of the poll!  He's now the one to beat!

If you'd like to see the painters with their portraits have a look at my 2017 blog post What do paintings by BP Portrait Award winners look like? - because the one thing the Vote page lacks is any sense of size of the painting....

Who I voted for


Winner of the BP Portrait Award 1993
(crop of) Two Figures Lying in a Shallow Stream (1992) by Philip Harris
oil on canvas 72" x 48"

I had absolutely no hesitation when voting - Two Figures Lying in a Shallow Stream by Philip Harris is a monumental painting

  • which just made my jaw drop when I saw it for the first time back in 1993 - and 
  • I've never ever forgotten it. 

I knew what I was going to vote for before I even saw the choice!  It scores on so many levels:

  • major impact - this painting is HUGE. His website says 72" x 48" and the figures are a bit less than life size
  • two figures not just one
  • one clothed and one nude - so skin and textiles
  • hands and feet as well as faces
  • the best background ever - the stones and detritus of a stream bed
  • an implied story as well as a great figurative painting and two excellent portraits
So what will you vote for? Answers on my (public) Facebook Page please....

BP Sponsorship

BP sponsorship is not without controversy - as I fully recognise. I've set out my views and a commentary on BP sponsorship in previous posts - see
The company’s support of the Portrait Award, including initiatives such as the BP Next Generation programme, the BP Young Artist’s Award and the BP Travel Award, has also significantly contributed to the career development of more than 1,400 portrait artists, from aspiring young painters to established professionals.

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