BP Portrait Award 2015


I had every intention of going to see this years BP Portrait Award however other things meant that what was going to be a quiet day in the office turned out not to be.

For the time being I will enjoy the catalogue I purchased from the National Portrait Gallery during one of the short lunch breaks I had this week. And with fingers crossed I will be able to take a leisurely trip around the exhibition soon.

2 JULY 2015 I have probably said it before but worth saying again, the artwork submitted to the BP Portrait Award really does need to be seen in the flesh rather than viewed online or in a printed publication.

One of the works that stands out physically is Charlotte and Emily by Leslie Watts. The frame that surrounds the piece makes it different from everything else around it and makes the work almost like a three dimensional sculpture. It reminds me of the Victorian miniatures in their cases but with a very modern twist.

An unusual take of the portrait is Daniel Coves’s Back Portrait no.8. You don’t often see a portrait in which the person’s face is not visible.

There is something quite touching and dignified in what would be an awkward situation of My Mother, My Sister by Grace O’Connor in which the daughter helps their parent in the shower. You know when you have grown up when you no longer can rely on your parents for their care but they have to rely on you.

I’m not 100% convinced that the nice nude study of Anwen by Anne-Christine Roda really does question your idea of beauty and the power of women in 21st century Western society. What does question your idea of beauty is Ugly – Portrait of Robert Hoge by Nick Stathopoulos.

As for my favourite it has to be A Silent and Inconsequential Victory by Dani Trew. That is mine but go and choose yours. As it is on until 20 September and also it is free entry there is no reason not to.

NPG moment of 2014

The National Portrait Gallery sent a tweet on Christmas Eve asking people who follow them what their most memorable moment was over the past twelve months. It got me thinking about all the different things that took place there and what was my NPG moment of 2014.

The BP Portrait Award and the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize were the two big annual events that I had looked forward to. There was also Bailey’s Stardust exhibition and the Snowdon exhibition.

Let us not forget their work with Channel 4 on Grayson Perry: Who Are You? and Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year.

Online as well with their A Room of One’s Own competition to accompany the Virginia Woolf exhibition or the Twitter Q&A with Thomas Ganter who was this year’s first prize winner in the BP Portrait Award.

For me the Late Shift screening of Almost Out by Jayne Parker was the one that stood out. It made me view portraiture in a totally fresh way. Even reminiscing about it now reminds me just how thought-provoking it was.

I’m so glad I became one of their members this year.

Photography as art

I came across The Photograph as Contemporary Art by Charlotte Cotton during a visit to the National Portrait Gallery bookshop the other day.  I’ve only just started reading it and for me it is a bit of a slow process as it has been written in a fairly academic textbook style.

In the introduction the book suggests that most contemporary art photographers today have had some sort of high level formal education. With a statement like that, it suggests that only an elite are able to produce photography as art. Can that be right?

I do think that there are artists who stand head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd in whatever discipline they specialise in. Photography is no exception. But as in all things artistic, it is very much a personal choice of the viewer. Your favourite may not be the same as mine.

The thing with photography, which may explain why certain quarters of the art world shun it, is that it is so much easier to create. To create a painting, drawing or sculpture needs some ability. Creating a digital photograph requires less effort.

But regardless of the medium, it is the creative idea behind the piece that makes the work either shine or fall.

Photography in the modern world is very democratic in that we all can express our creative ideas very easily. The problem with the modern world is how we curate the endless images being produced every second of the day. Finding that gem of a photograph that makes you stop and think, is visually exciting and stays in your memory gets more difficult as an ever increasing number of images are brought into being.

The human mind does sometimes amaze me, in that we all can be creative regardless of what our background is.