This year two members of CCW research staff, Professor Eileen Hogan and Reader Mark Fairnington, have been selected to show in the BP Portrait Award 2014. The exhibition, held annually at the National Portrait Gallery ‘showcases fifty-five of the most outstanding and innovative new portraits from around the world. From informal and personal studies of friends and family to revealing images of famous faces, the exhibition features a variety of styles and approaches to the contemporary painted portrait. The works on display, selected from a record-breaking 2,377 entries, include the winner of the £30,000 first prize as well as the work of the BP Young Artist 2014 and the BP Travel Award 2013 winners.
Now in its twenty-fifth year of sponsorship by BP, and thirty-fifth year at the National Portrait Gallery, the Portrait Award is the most prestigious international portrait painting competition and the free exhibition continues to be an unmissable highlight of the annual art calendar.’Hogan’s sitter is Adam Phillips, profiled in 2013 in the New Yorker, which described him as Britain’s foremost psychoanalytical writer. It was commissioned (a legacy) by the late children’s lawyer, Jane Brodie, a mutual friend of Hogan’s and of Phillips’ and is painted in her memory. Hogan has previously appeared in the BP Portrait Award with her portraits of Ian Hamilton Finlay (2007), Lady Sainsbury of Preston Candover (2009) and Paul Ruddock (2012).
Fairnington is showing ‘a diptych of my sons Lee and Jason. I am making one painting a year of the boys. In the last few years the focus of my research has shifted from natural history collections towards the human subject. Some of the central themes, however, still persist such as moments where the idea of the specimen, the representative, overlaps with the individual and the specific. I have avoided using the word “portrait” to describe the new paintings as this contextualises them in a particular way and within a certain history. They are paintings of people. However, I was interested to see what they looked like in relation to paintings that are clearly identified as portraits. The BP Portrait Award is a place where this happens.
Lee and Jason are twins and they are redheads. They don’t usually wear the same clothes. In my paintings they are wearing their wetsuits, a graphic image that immediately links the paintings, making the similarities between the boys very clear and immediate. The differences emerge slowly: body posture, how they hold their heads, the slope of the shoulders, the hand gestures. The paintings are peculiarly still given the whirlwind dynamism that characterises the boys’ daily lives.’