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Art Teacher Wins BP Portrait Award with Painting of Twilight Daughter
Tom by Michael Gaskell. ©Michael Gaskell.
LONDON.- On Tuesday 16 June 2009 the winner of the BP Portrait Award 2009 was announced by Sebastian Faulks at the National Portrait Gallery. In a record-breaking year for entries the prestigious first prize was won by 44-year-old Surrey artist Peter Monkman. His winning portrait, Changeling 2, is part of a series of portraits of his daughter, Anna, at different stages of her life. Peter wins £25,000 and a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees' discretion, worth £4,000.

The second prize of £8,000 goes to Michael Gaskell for Tom and the third prize of £6,000 goes to Annalisa Avancini for Manuel.

There is, also for the third time, the BP Young Artist Award of £5,000 for the work of an entrant aged between 18 and 30. This has been won by Mark Jameson for Benfica Blue.

Peter Monkman (b.1964) for Changeling 2 (oil on canvas, 1220 x 900 mm) was shortlisted for the first time this year, having been included in the BP Portrait Award exhibition in 1999, 2001 and 2003. Currently Director of Art at Charterhouse School, Surrey, Monkman, 44, studied visual arts at the University of Lancaster, John Moores University Liverpool and the University of London. The shortlisted portrait is part of a series of portraits of his daughter exploring the concept of the changeling, a child substituted for another by stealth, often with an elf. 'I challenge the fixed notion of an idealised image of childhood and substitute it for a more unsettling, complex, representation that exists in its own right as a painting.' The initial ideas for this portrait came from photographic studies of Anna playing in woods in Brittany where the light had a magical quality.

Second Prize: Michael Gaskell (b.1963) for Tom (egg tempera on board, 270 x 210 mm). Michael Gaskell lives in Sheffield and won Second Prize in the BP Portrait Award previously in 2003 and was commended in both 2001 and 1999. He studied at St Helen's College of Art and Design and Coventry Polytechnic and has been exhibiting his work for over twenty years. The shortlisted portrait is of his son, Tom, who was 17 at the time of the first sitting. 'He was at the period in adolescence between boy and manhood and fleetingly suspended between both.' Gaskell continued to work on the portrait over the next two years. 'In spirit my painting owes most to Botticelli's Portrait of a Young Man which is its primary inspiration and a painting I've always loved. The pose itself is more reminiscent of a number of portraits by Holbein, an artist I greatly admire.'

Third Prize: Annalisa Avancini (b.1973 ) for Manuel (oil on board, 1000 x 800). Annalisa, 35, is a painter and design teacher from Italy who studied at the Arts High School of Trento and the Marangoni Institute in Milan. This was the third time that Avancini had painted Manuel, 31. She says, 'His eclectic personality is what attracts me. His story shines through his face. Despite his young age his life is rich in experience.' Avancini started this most recent portrait last summer, attracted by the contrast between Manuel's expression, the battered chair and the sunlight coming in through the window. Avancini's work has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States and she won First Prize in both the 1st Contemporary Art Show 2006 at the Museum of the Americas, Miami and the Painting Prize for Young Artists 2007 at the Verona Fine Art Society.

Young Artist Award: Mark Jameson (b.1979) for Benfica Blue (oil and acrylic on canvas, 1220 x 762 mm). Mark Jameson, 29, painted his award winning portrait of his sister, Lyndsey, in less than a month. The sittings took place at his parent's house in County Durham. He says, 'It was my intention to capture aspects of the subject's persona, but also to convey this in a modern and relevant way. That said the acrid colours and an informal composition contribute to an accessible and honest account. This piece is not to my mind entirely finished. I hope that perhaps its technical shortcomings are in keeping with the character of the piece.' Since graduating from Sunderland University with a degree in Fine Art in 2003, Jameson has acquired a handful of commissions through local art dealers and hopes to be able to become a full time artist in the future.

In addition, The BP Travel Award 2009 winner was also announced last night. Isobel Peachey wins for her proposal to travel to Belgium and Switzerland to sketch and paint portraits of those taking part in historical re-enactments. She will visit The Company of Saynt George, a Swiss group re-enacting the history of a small artillery company from the 15th Century at the Castle of Lenzburg, near Zurich, and The Napoleonic Association who portray the life of a military encampment near Antwerp in Belgium. Peachey hopes to capture the unique mix of history, culture, authentic settings and the participants' passionate involvement in recreating the past. She receives a bursary of £5,000 to travel and paint portraits for display in next year's BP Portrait Award exhibition.

The work of the BP Travel Award 2008 winner Emmanouil Bitsakis will be on display at this year's exhibition. Bitsakis travelled to north-west China to paint portraits of the minority Uigur people who are a far eastern branch of the extended family of Turkic peoples. The Uigur are culturally distinct from the majority Han Chinese and alongside their religion of Islam, their music and dance idiom, 'Muqam' is the core of their identity and culture.

National Portrait Gallery | Peter Monkman | Michael Gaskell | Annalisa Avancini | Mark Jameson | Isobel Peachey | Emmanouil Bitsakis |


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