Sunderland to host BP Portrait Award images

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SUNDERLAND is the first, and only English venue outside of London, chosen to host winning pictures from a tour of one of the world’s most prestigious art competitions.

Next month, the Museum & Winter Gardens will exhibit more than fifty striking images from The BP Portrait Award, which is one of the National Portrait Gallery’s flagship displays.

The prestigious first prize of £30,000, in the competition’s 25th anniversary year, was won by 40-year-old German artist Thomas Ganter for Man with a Plaid Blanket, a haunting portrait of a homeless car-windscreen cleaner.

The winning portrait will be among those that can be seen at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens from Saturday, October 4 until Sunday, November 16.

It’s the latest in a line of high-profile exhibitions at the venue which last year hosted Turner Prize-winner Grayson Perry’s tapestries and, more recently, the V&A’s War Games.

Coun John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, said: “We are delighted to be chosen as the first venue on the UK tour to display these treasures.

“It’s great news for our city that Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens is the only venue in England outside of London to be chosen for the tour of these fantastic portraits.

“The North East is, quite rightly, developing a reputation for creativity and culture. We should take great pride in being selected to host such a wonderful exhibition and I would encourage everyone to go along and make the most of this opportunity to see great art here in our city.”

The BP Portrait Award 2014 received 2,377 entries from 71 different countries. Judged anonymously, 55 portraits have been selected for the exhibition.

The Portrait Award, now in its 35th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 25th year of sponsorship by BP, is a highly successful annual event aimed at encouraging artists to focus upon, and develop, the theme of painted portraiture within their work.

Des Violaris, director, UK Arts and Culture, BP, said: “I am delighted that we have had a record number of entries for this - the 25th anniversary of BP’s support for this global initiative.

“Every year I am amazed by the talent and skills of all the artists who submitted entries, and this year is certainly no exception. I am pleased that this year we have such an international mix of winners, reflecting the interest this competition attracts from around the world.”

The second and third prize winners - Richard Twose and Thomas Ganter will also be exhibited in Sunderland.

Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, said: “We are very pleased that the BP Portrait Award 2014 exhibition is visiting Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens. Visitors in the North East and beyond will be able to view 55 outstanding portraits by artists from all over the world.”

The exhibition also features the work of Sophie Ploeg, the winner of the BP Travel Award 2013, and BP Young Artist Award Ignacio Estudillo Pérez. The Travel award is an annual prize allowing artists to work in a different environment on a project related to portraiture.