Posts filed under 'Art'

Director Leaves

A few weeks ago now I went to Sandy Nairne’s leaving event at the National Portrait Gallery. There  was a huge turn out of the great and the good in the art world which is testament to the fact that he’s been  such a great and effective Director at the Gallery. A great night.02 23_285902 23_2860

April 8th, 2015


It was a long time coming  but here it is. We had a lovely unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery roof top restaurant on Thursday morning with magnificent panoramic views over London which seemed quite apt given the sitter. We started having meetings and sittings  in 2011 and 2012, some while he was running for mayor again, and then Anne and I had Scarlett  which slowed things down a little  and I painted it from last January 2013.It took me 11 months to paint and is around three and a half foot square. In fact it took so long to paint that by the end I just became blind to it  and couldn’t see it with fresh eyes so until the unveiling, when I got feedback from lots of people, I never really knew how I felt about it but I’m beginning to feel  comfortable with it now.  Here’s my quote from the press which sums it up for me and below I’ll add a link from The Guardian

” I wanted it to be a relaxed and informal depiction. One of the thinks Ken said to me during the sittings was that he always tried to appear calm during interviews and debates and never lost his cool so I wanted his pose to be calm, as if the viewer was in conversation with him and he was listening. I liked the idea of setting him  in his garden rather than against architectural symbols of London which he is associated with because it was his little patch of London and I think he is very much perceived as a down to earth figure “.




July 6th, 2014


I can’t believe how this story about the portrait collection at the House of Commons has escalated. It’s been on every TV news channel , radio, broadsheet and even tabloid. I think the most balanced and truthful piece was in yesterdays Guardian (which is attached above) by Jonathan Jones and it was very nice of him to focus on my portrait of Tony Benn which is in the collection.
I imagine a journalist was invited to Portcullis House for lunch and was shown the collection and had the germ of an idea to gently massage a nerve. In truth it’s a none story, £250,000 spent over almost 20 years is actually peanuts in the scheme of government spending. And from it they have some great depictions and a few exceptional portraits from some of the best portrait painters in the country. Again, in truth many of the artists did the portraits very much in good will because in the early days of the collection there was very little funding so back in 1998 I took the view that it was a great project to do and other work would come from it which indeed it did.
It’s a shame when issues like Syria have dropped off the news agenda in recent months this kind of inflammatory journalism can steal the headlines.

January 15th, 2014

Plus One at Andorra Museum

Plus One gallery who I show with in London are currently holding an exhibition at the main museum in Andorra. We’ve all got a few pieces in the show ( the gallery artists) and I believe that it is moving on to Barcelona afterwards. Here’s a photo from the opening,unfortunately I didn’t go.

August 1st, 2013


Sky Arts are making a series about portraiture. It’s a competition based programme, I guess a bit like the X Factor but without the cruelty. They invited me to a screen test with  the magnificent artist Tai Shan Schierenberg  to be a judge and they rightly chose Tai who is not just a wonderful painter but a natural on TV, I remember a show he made for BBC2 on Titian which was excellent. I think Kathleen Soriano is the other judge, formerly of the National Portrait Gallery and now head of exhibitions at the RA. It would have been a giggle with those two but Sky, you made the right choice, my accent isn’t made for TV. 

August 1st, 2013

Tony Benn Film

Some time ago now I was invited to make a short film with Tony Benn about the portrait that I made of him 15 years ago for the House of Commons.  We’re sat infront of  the portrait with his son Hilary who was asking the questions.

Here is the youtube link.

I’m doing another portrait for the Palace of Westminster , this time for the House Of Lords, of Lord Carrington. I’ve had a few meetings and sitting with him at the Commons and  at his home but I won’t be starting it until next year. I’ve been doing quite a few paintings which I can’t talk about at the moment until they have been unveiled which is why I haven’t posted many lately. I’m currently working on a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery and have been since January but again I can’t say who yet…watch this space.

August 1st, 2013


I was commissioned to do 2 portraits of Sir Adam Roberts, president of the British Academy on the Mall and also principal of Balliol College, Oxford. Both institutions had one image each. Here are the two drawings, roughly A2 in size in charcoal, carbon, graphite and ink.

August 1st, 2013

Eric Sykes on display

My portrait of Eric Sykes was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery last week and is on show now for a while in their new re-hang to coincide with the Man ray exhibition. It is on the ground floor gallery space .

February 17th, 2013


I was sad to hear the news that former Doctor Feelgood guitarist and latterly solo artist Wilko Johnson has terminal cancer. I loved his attacking guitar technique but also his down to earth, working class attitude. I saw him on a BBC4 recently about 70’s rock music mimicking the pomposity of the keyboard players with arms at full stretch either side of them pawing over their banks of keyboards. He hated David Bowie’s arty image preferring his local gangster style sharp suit. Anne and me were watching Game of Thrones over Christmas ( thanks Nige) and I thought ” That Looks like Wilko Johnson” and it was. I saw him a few times with my friend Matt and he was brilliant. I wish I’d got a ticket for his farewell tour but they sold out in hours, and what a great sitter he would make too.
All the best Wilko

February 10th, 2013


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I was invited to Eric Sykes’ memorial at St. Martins-in-the-fields, just off trafalgar square last week. It was an upbeat memorial , Eddie Izzard made a speech and set the comedy tone and Robert Lindsay , Peter Alliss , Tim Davie and Bill Kenwright also spoke. It was full to the rafters with family and friends and lots’ of actors and comedians. The service closed with the RAF band playing the theme tune to his 70’s sit com “Sykes” .

February 10th, 2013

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