The Palace of Westminster contacted me to do a portrait of Lord Carrington which I worked on for quite a sizeable portion of last year. It’s set in his manor house in Buckinghamshire and I liked the atmospheric lighting of the space, it’s proportions and link to his ancestry. It was unveiled in February at the House of Lords and it seemed to go down very well. One Lord came up and complimented me and said his son ran an art gallery in a very matter of fact way, as if it was a small Cornish gallery in Penzance…”Yes, it’s called White Cube, have you heard of it ?” Said Lord Jopling.

I’ve also added a drawing of Lord Carrington which I made before I started the painting.

The Parliamentary Arts Committee also commissioned 4 films to accompany the portrait which explain it in much more detail and these are listed below.













April 8th, 2015

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

Tony Benn’s Funeral


It was a real honour for me to have been invited to Tony Benn’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Thursday. He made some enemies over the years but a lot more friends so the more intimate St Margaret’s Church in the Abbey was full to the rafters. It looked more like a demonstration outside as we went into the church with miners strike banners from the 80’s and Stop the War Coalition banners from the noughties , a huge crowd that he had encouraged and inspired over the decades. I found myself sitting next to , or in close proximity to Alastair Campbell, Peter Tatchell and George Galloway, quite a formidable trio.

As Tony Benn became almost a “National Treasure” in later life, after he had retired, it’s easy to forget just how radical his politics was with mourners like Arthur Scargill, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in the congregation. In fact I remember the afternoon after one of our morning sittings Gerry Adams was due to have a meeting with Tony Benn in his basement office.  This would have been back in 1997 , still the very early stages of the peace process and I seem to remember shortly after this Benn was the first politician to invite Adams into the House of Commons for which he got a lot of stick from the press at the time.

I also thought it was interesting to see Shirley Williams and David Steel there too after Williams , one of the Gang of Four who broke away from the Labour party in the early 80’s to form the SDP , largely due to the direction Tony Benn and Michael Foot were taking the Labour Party which caused a huge rift.  Tony Blair didn’t make the funeral , he sent Cherrie but something tells me Tony Benn wouldn’t have missed him.

His 3 son’s and daughter made extremely emotional and articulate speeches towards the end of the service , the Benn spirit of oratory was in them all.

Although I was only really an acquaintance of the family Hillary Benn made me feel like the closest family friend  when he greeted me which is quite a skill. It certainly felt like the end of an era in many ways but he definitely lives on through his family.

March 31st, 2014









I was very sad to hear the news about Tony Benn’s passing.   I knew that he was unwell and was kind of expecting an announcement but it still comes as a shock. It’s been a huge news story, as he got older he became a national treasure which is in stark contrast to his political hay day when he was hated by many. But ultimately  he was  a man of huge principal , conviction, passion  and belief which the nation respected him for. Certainly I felt that he had a very purifying presence when you are in his company and you felt that there was a lot of good within him. The last time that I saw him was just before Christmas when we made a film about the portrait that I painted with him for the Palace of Westminster archive and website. I could tell then that he was getting older but bless him he still tried to light up his pipe in Portcullis House on 3 occasions during the filming to the dismay of the fire security man who very respectfully asked him not to.( There’s a link to the film below).

I first met Tony back in 1998 when I went for a series of sittings at his home in Notting Hill which he had moved into way way before the area became gentrified. The office was very busy with lots of papers on his desk, lots of technical gadgets on a table , mainly for recording purposes because he always recorded interviews. There was a sense that he lived and breathed socialism and there were lots of socialist/ Labour objects that people had given to him over the years and he had kept them all,  the plavce felt a little like a museum. I remember one room was completely taken over by a huge miners banner given to him by Arthur Scargill. We sat in his white plastic lawn chairs in his office and talked about how we might like to compose the portrait and what we could put in it that reflected him as a sitter. many of the things were already in place and others we brought down, like chair which he is sitting in which was once owned by Kier Hardy and he loved the idea of getting a small statue of Karl Marx into Westminster which is on the shelf.  His wife , Caroline would often pop into the sittings for a chat and his brother would come for soup at lunchtime sometimes. He gave me a little socialist pin badge which I have treasured after the last sitting. My Dad was a big fan of his and he came into the sittings the one time and was made extremely welcome. I had a number of sittings and unveilings with him and we became  friends. When my Dad died and he found out he telephoned my mother straight away to offer his condolences and he wrote to me and when he say my work in the broadsheets he would often write to me and when Anne and me got married he wrote a little  piece for the day. A measure of the man I think, somebody who was always interested in people and something he always said , which I haven’t heard many people mention in the tributes  was ” Always encourage people”

It was a privilege to meet Tony and become one of his many many friends and his contribution will never be forgotten.


March 15th, 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

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