17 Jun, 2009

BP Portrait award winner announced

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

Public school art teacher Peter Monkman wins the £25,000 prize for a ‘spooky’ portrait of his 12-year-old daughter

An art teacher from one of the UK’s best-known public schools last night won the BP Portrait award for a magical – if slightly unsettling – painting of his 12-year-old daughter.

Peter Monkman, director of art at Charterhouse school in Surrey, won the £25,000 top prize, which also comes with a future commission from the National Portrait Gallery.

The oil painting, entitled Changeling 2, is part of a series Monkman painted of his daughter Anna at various stages of her life, and explores the concept of the changeling – a child who has been substituted by the offspring of elves or fairies.

Monkman said he was trying not to make a sentimentalised portrait, but to represent the changes that occur as children grow into teenagers and the problems that develop in families. His aim was to make it “a little spooky”, he said.

“She is one of my biggest critics, and she did tell me I got certain things wrong,” he admitted. “But although she won’t come clean, I think she’s quietly happy about the portrait.”

The director of the gallery, Sandy Nairne, described it as “a superb, magical portrait – a very worthy winner for the BP Portrait award.”

Another artist, Michael Gaskell, who has been exhibiting for 20 years, was named runner-up for the second time, having come second in 2003 and been commended twice. His entry this year was a hyper-realistic painting of his son Tom, aged 17, hovering between boyhood and manhood. Gaskell said he was inspired by Botticelli’s Portrait of a Young Man and also by the portraiture of Holbein. Third place went to Annalisa Avancini, an artist and teacher from Italy, who painted her friend Manuel.

Other prizes given out last night included a young artist award, which went to Mark Jameson for a portrait of his sister Lyndsey, which he painted in less than a month at their parents’ home in County Durham; and a travel award, which went to Isobel Peachey for her proposal to travel around Belgium and Switzerland chronicling re-enactments of historical battles.

The exhibition of the best of the entries is always one of the gallery’s most popular shows and opens to the public tomorrow.

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