I was in London for the day yesterday for the launch of a new web based link up for BP artists. The BP Portrait Award has been going for over 20 years now so a lot of artists have passed through during that time. Someone’s had a great idea at the gallery to get everybody together in a web based networking set up. So basically it was a bit of a jolly lat night at the NPG, meeting up with old friends from years ago to present day. In fact, a lot of us are already in touch already but there ids so much scope for linking up and liaising with other artists…..very exciting. It’s also linked up with the Olympic funding and workshops are going to be set up to encourage the youngsters.
I met Philip Harris and Mike Gaskell earlier on in the day and we had lots of coffee and an appauling lunch in soho, ( soup of the day… economy tinned tomato soup, carefully opened out of view with three slices of courgette…yummy and a bargain at £4.00) But we managed to catch up and went to see some exhibitions around town. After more coffee we went to the NPG and met up with a lot of the previous winners , even going back to when JPS sponsored it. Humphrey Ocean and Tai Shan-Shierenburg who won that one then the BP winners, Phil Harris, Peter Edwards, Ishbel Myerscough, Stuart Pearson – Wright, James Lloyd, Craig Wylie and shortlisted artists and travel award winners Joel Ely and Annie-the lovely couple back together again, David Hancock and his partner , Kevin Cunningham who I haven’t seen for years and Brendan Kelley ( who amazingly hasn’t won it yet) and lots of others I’ve missed out.
Good luck for this year Mr. Gaskell.
May 18th, 2010
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May 12th, 2010
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May 4th, 2010
Here is the result of the past 4 months of work. It’s Alan sitting in what I named “The Writers Room”. He sits in this room to write all of his books and always spends most of the time sitting in his lovely old rocking chair which was his Grandmothers. It’s a great room , full of all his stuff and little narrative objects which reflect and reinforce his identity. I was particularly concious not to set anything up in this portrait. I wanted it to be absolutely natural and exactly as it was. There’s an old 80′s Hi-Fi which I really didn’t want to paint because it’s such an ugly object and I hinted at Alan to remove it ( this would have ben the only concession) – but he said there’s too much wire at the back , it’s staying , and in many ways I’m glad it did because it’s as much a part of the room as everything else. I loved painting the cauldron , beautiful sculptural shapeand the glove looks like there is somebody trying to crawl thrir way out. The landscape and local archaeology is extremely important to Alan’s books so the window was very significant. I was interested about the grid structure that archaeologists use which is similar to my roughs. I loved painting the old tiles too, they really gave the space a shape. I wanted the angles of the room to be a bit crazy because it was such an anchient old cottage that they lived in called “Toad Hall” that it was moving and subsiding all over the place. He was a great sitter for me because he had no vanity at all, an similarly to the unveiling of Tony Benn’s portrait he was only really interested in the objects and the litle stories that they held and really didn’t give a dam about his depiction. Attached to Toad Hall is an old timber framed building called “The Medicine House” which was destined for demolitian in the early 70′s but Alan saved it and had it moved timber by timber and erected next to Toad Hall. It’s got a wonderful huge chimney right in the middle and really is the obvious setting for a portrait because of the drama or th space but I found the writers room to be infinitely more interesting and apt for Alan.
For a larger view of the portrait click on the image and it should enlarge.
For more information about Alan see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Garner
Thanks to the V&A for funding this project.
May 4th, 2010