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BP Portrait Award

November 11, 2009

Earlier this year I was asked by Sandy Nairne, my counterpart at the National Portrait Gallery in London, to be a judge of the BP Portrait Award exhibition.  This was really enjoyable – if hard work! There were five judges and over two days in an empty school in Hackney we looked at about 2000 portraits and from those had to select the exhibition of fifty six works and the winner and runners up. 

I am sure there were good things we missed working so quickly but the exhibition we unanimously selected is one of the best I remember and has a very wide range of styles and subjects. The exhibition has already proved a huge success in London. Normally we would have mounted the exhibition at the Portrait Gallery but with contractors now in the gallery is a building site.  Fortunately Simon Groom, the National Galleries’ Director of Modern and Contemporary Art, agreed to show the exhibition at the Dean Gallery on Belford Road. Nicola Kalinsky has been busy overseeing all the arrangements for the exhibition there and it is good to be working once again with our friends and partners from the National Portrait Gallery in London and BP.

Dan Llywelyn Hall - Harry Patch, 70 x 100cm, © Daniel Llywelyn Hall

Daniel LLYWELYN HALL, Harry Patch, 70 x 100cm, © Daniel Llywelyn Hall

The exhibition opens on 12 December and contains a diverse selection of portraits, including this portrait by Dan Llywelyn Hall of Harry Patch (1898-2009), who died earlier this year, and was the last surviving British soldier to have fought in the trenches during the First World War. Made from a single three-hour sitting, this portrayal of one of the nation’s great heros is a fitting choice on Armistice Day.

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