The BP Portrait Award

If you’re going along to the BP Portrait Award Exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery this summer, keep an eye out for work by our faculty and alumni.

This year our tutor  Julie Held is exhibiting a portrait of her father, and there’s a nice mention of her painting in the Independent here. (She’ll be teaching Life Painting: Exploring Colour at our Sydney Close Studios in West London this autumn.)


My Father: PEJ Held by Julie Held (Acrylic and oil on canvas, 1525 x 915 mm)

The School has a history of success in the BP Portrait Award. Co-founder and artistic director Catherine Goodman won the award in 2002, with her portrait of Dom Antony Sutch, the Benedictine monk and headmaster of the Roman Catholic Downside School in Somerset.

Two of the School’s faculty, James Lloyd and Ishbel Myerscough, are also BP Portrait Award winners. James won the award in 1997 and teaches Drawing a Head at The Prince’s Drawing School on Thursday evenings. Recently his portrait of Dame Maggie Smith, off-duty without her Downton Abbey costume, joined the great and the good of theatre in The National Portrait Gallery.

Ishbel teaches Drawing a Head: Expression and Colour on Tuesday evenings. After winning the award in 1995 she was commissioned to paint a distinctive portrait of the actress Dame Helen Mirren and opera singer Sir Willard White. You can read about the challenges she faced in working from observation and having a limited amount of time to make Dame Helen Mirren’s portrait here.

This year four Drawing Year alumni had paintings selected for the BP Portait Award 2013 exhibition, with Carl Randall, Clara Drummond, David Caldwell and Fred Clark all displaying portraits in the show. David’s piece is made up of 77 small portraits all done from short sittings with friends, many of whom are also Drawing Year alumni.


Kirsty by Clara Drummond (Oil on panel, 400 x 210 mm)


Conversations by David Caldwell (Oil on board, 1650 x 1900 mm)


Josh by Fred Clark (Oil on board, 415 x 340 mm)


Shinjuku, Tokyo by Carl Randall (Oil on canvas, 650 x 1300 mm)

Other Prince’s Drawing School tutors have work in the National Portrait Gallery too. Ivy Smith, who teaches Drawing: Heads and Hands, painted the double-portrait of Sir David and Lord Richard Attenborough which is in the gallery’s permanent collection. Our trustee Humphrey Ocean, winner of the Portrait Award in 1982, went on to create a portrait of Sir Paul McCartney after touring with the musician and his band, and currently has two rooms of his portraits on show documenting friends and visitors who have dropped into his studio over a year.

The BP Portait Award 2013 Exhibition will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 June – 15 September 2013, and will go on tour later in the year where it will be shown at the Aberdeen Art Gallery (2 November 2013 – 1 February 2014) and Wolverhampton Art Gallery (3 March – 14 June 2014).

If you’re feeling inspired by the exhibition, we are running lots of classes exploring drawing and painting a head this autumn term – visit our website for more details.


One thought on “The BP Portrait Award

  1. Pingback: The BP Portrait Award | Zedd Blog

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