Sunday, December 24, 2023

Portrait Artist of the Decade Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery - last few days

You have a few days left over the festive season to view the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Decade drawings and paintings at the National Portrait Gallery. 

Portraits of Dame Judi Dench by
Christobel Blackburn, Gareth Stevenson, Samira Addo and Christian Hook

They're currently on view in what's called the "Spotlight Space" at the very bottom of the publicly accessible floors of the National Portrait Gallery. 

Portraits of Dame Judi Dench by Curtis Holder, Morag Caistor and Gareth Reid

I visited back in November. It took me about half an hour to locate where they were!!

  • The directions within the Gallery are extremely opaque. 
  • Essentially they're down in the basement on Level -03.  
In order to locate the "Spotlight Space", you can DOWNLOAD

BELOW you can see the images of the various portraits of Dame Judi Dench on Level -03 (the minus is VERY important - as I learned on my trek around the Gallery!

You can also read my Review: Portrait Artist of the Decade

The first episode of Portrait Artist of the Year this year was devoted to the competition to find the Portrait Artist of the Decade - from the winners of the previous series.

The sitter for this momentous occasion was Dame Judi Dench - who promised to nod off in the afternoon but stayed bright and alert all day by the look of the programme.

Plus see my photographs in the album on my Facebook Page - see Portrait Artist of the Decade. This contains shots of just the heads as well as views of the complete portraits. 

When viewing the heads do remember that Dame Judi Dench is 89 years old and has resolutely NOT had any plastic surgery and boasts the wrinkles of age and wisdom! Does the portrait look like an 89 year old national treasure?

Portrait Artist of the Decade
The Set-Up for the sitting with Dame Judi Dench

Dame Judi Dench by....

Below you can see views of the paintings hung on the wall at the National Gallery - with a one line comment from me. They are ordered by time and the series won by the artist.
Links to the artists' website or social media site are embedded in their names.

Christian Hook Series 2 (2014)

By Christian Hook

This painting was chosen by Dame Judi Dench.

The process he uses is amazing. He gets the likeness and also makes it contemporary.

Gareth Reid Series 3 (2017)

By Gareth Reid

Selected by Sarah Howgate, the National Portrait Gallery's Senior Curator, Contemporary Collections, as her winner.

Impeccable and restained drawing. Probably the best likeness of them all.

For the record his series commission portrait was, for me, probably the best of the decade.

Samira Addo Series 4 (2018)

By Samira Addo

I really don't like her style and I'm puzzled as to why it took four hours to produce this.

Duncan Shoosmith Series 5 (2019)

By Duncan Shoosmith

Not his best work - although I usually like his work a lot. Tonal pattern is off and distracting.

Christabel Blackburn Series 6 (Spring 2020)

By Christobel Blackburn

I really liked this one. Brave to go for a full figure portrait and she very nearly pulled it off.

Curtis Holder Series 7 (Autumn 2020)

By Curtis Holder

Interesting and flattering - but makes her look a lot younger than she actually is. She's earned those wrinkles and makes no arrempt to hide them.

Calum Stevenson Series 8 (2021)

By Calum Stevenson

Looking quite dour. However I think it's also a good painting - just not flattering.

Morag Caister Series 9 (2022)

By Morag Caister

Another one of Morag's full figure drawing/paintings - where the porportions are slightly off.

The Gallery also has a video of the Programme playing.

View of part of the Gallery PLUS video of the programme


(Left to right) Christian Hook, Samira Addo, Morag Caister, Christobel Blackburn
(Kate Bryan) Curtis Holder, Duncan Shoosmith,
(Tai Shan Shierenberg, Kathleen Soriano) Gareth Reid, Calum Stevenson

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