Turns out third time really is a charm for Edinburgh-born artist Clara Drummond, who has taken out the BP Portrait Prize with her portrait of fellow artist Kirsty Buchanan. A five-time finalist in the award, Drummond’s previous entries in 2013 and 2014 were also of Buchanan, I guess proving another other adage that practice makes perfect (or, potentially, Drummond’s a bit of a bunny boiler. Let’s go the former). Titled Girl in a Liberty Dress, the work was described by judges including artist Jenny Saville and novelist Alan Hollinghurst as having a “subtle, enigmatic nature, and for the indelible impression the artist’s skill makes on the viewer”. Also, as Kate Middleton knows, a Liberty dress is almost always a winner.
Runner up Bo Wang, a university lecturer in China, painted his grandmother lying on her hospital bed a month before she died. Judges said they found it “a moving and deeply affecting portrait.”
Third prize went to 39-year-old Benjamin Sullivan for his portrait of the poet Hugo Williams. Sullivan is the youngest person ever admitted to both the New English Art Club and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in the UK.
Jamie Coreth, a graduate of the Florence Academy of Art, was announced the winner of the Young Artist Award with his painting Dad Sculpting Me, which would seem to indicate that artistic ability is in the genes in the Coreth family!
Perhaps of most note is that the BP Portrait Prize includes a ‘Travel Award’, available to all entrants, which affords the winner £6,000 to undertake a residency of sorts outside the UK. Laura Guoke, who is based in Lithuania, won for her proposal to travel to a migrant camp in Greece and to document both the refugees and the volunteers who are helping them. Guoke, who came to the to the attention of the judges with her entry Petra, will use sketches, photographs and film to form the basis of two large-scale portraits which will be painted back in her studio.
Now in its 37th year, the £30,000 BP Portrait Prize is the UK’s most prestigious award for portraiture, attracting 2557 entries from 80 countries, of which 53 have been selected for exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
BP Portrait Prize
National Portrait Gallery
Until 4 September 2016