Thursday, September 24, 2020

No BP Portrait Award in 2021 and 2022

An important announcement about the international art competition - the BP Portrait Award - from the National Portrait Gallery today - which will be of interest to portrait artists around the world.

We are writing to let you know that the National Portrait Gallery will not be staging the BP Portrait Award in 2021 and 2022 while the building in St Martin's Place is closed for our Inspiring People redevelopment.

We realise this will be disappointing to many, but having carefully considered all of the options, it is simply not possible for us to stage the competition in the way that both we and BP would wish while the Gallery is closed.

The BP Portrait Award 2020 exhibition will open at Aberdeen Art Gallery on 10 October and we are delighted that visitors will have the opportunity to view this year's exhibition in person.

We will continue to find new ways to work with artists and showcase the very best in contemporary portraiture through our digital channels during our closure. Please do continue to sign up for our emails and follow us on social media for the latest updates and information on how to get involved.


iDeath by Michal Ožibko oil with acrylic background on canvas, 2200 x 1700 mm photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell
BP Portrait Award 2010: Visitors Choice Award
 by Michal Ožibko
oil with acrylic background on canvas, 2200 x 1700 mm
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I'm not surprised.

Back in June I predicted as follows......

Extract from National Portrait Gallery not reopening - until 2023

My guess is they will 
  • launch a new version of the Portrait award as part of the celebration of the new Gallery re-opening in 2023
  • BP will be "retired" as the patron/sponsor 
  • recruit / entice another more appropriate sponsor will be found for the exhibition. Ideally one which 
    • offends nobody in relation to environmental, cultural or ethical matters.
    • complies with the currently non-existent policy on Sustainability!!! (i.e. the ability to exist constantly) as well as any other relevant policies such as the Equality and Diversity policy
Either that - or by then there will have had to be a radical and demonstrably evidenced commitment by BP to reducing carbon emissions.

If for no other reason that any car being driven in London which does not meet the Ultra Low Emissions Threshold for the newly expanded ULEZ Zone (basically inside the North and South Circular - as from October 2021) will be paying £12.50 a day in 2023 - and it's very likely that sustainability will be a MUCH more high profile issue!

The last 20 years of Portrait Award Exhibitions

Below are links to the microsites about the BP Portrait Award Exhibitions - which are INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT to find ( had to use my best detective skills!) on the NPG website. It would be easier to find most of them from my BP Portrait Award blog posts

What the BP Portrait Award now needs is a proper accessible and digital archive of every exhibition and every entry exhibited - with particular attention to the prizewinners. 

Plus a listing and digital images of all the artworks commissioned from all the winners of the First prize.
PS The image is of the Visitors Choice Award in 2010 - which has always been one of the most clicked / visited BP Portrait Award images on this blog!  Those who saw it will remember it was huge - that was the era of the "big heads"

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