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“BP Travel Award 2012” at the National Portrait Gallery.

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“BP Travel Award 2012” at the National Portrait Gallery.

David Burlak – 2nd October 2012

“allow artists to experience working in a different environment”

The Weavers by Jo Fraser, 2012 © Jo Fraser

The “BP Travel Award 2012” was another successful event at the National Portrait Gallery. Part of the “BP Portrait Award 2012”, that for the year 2012 has seen many activities, including the “BP Portrait Award 2012: Next Generation”, a “Visitor’s Choice” award, the “Young British” award, together with “Commission” to paint a portrait that subsequently enters the Gallery’s collection.

The “BP Travel Award 2012” winner was Carl Randall. He has won for his proposal to travel to Japan and journey along the Nakasendo Highway, following in the footsteps of the Japanese printmaker Ando Hiroshige (1797 – 1858). Hiroshige produced a series of woodblock prints on his travels which serve as an artistic document of life in Japan in the 19th Century. Starting in Tokyo and travelling to Kyoto, Randall will produce a series of portraits depicting locals along the route as it exists today, contrasting with life found in Hiroshige’s time. He says, ‘I have visited some of these areas, a great variety of people and places can be encountered on the journey, a cross section of professions from old and new Japanese society – from salary men in office blocks, to farmers in rice fields; employees of motorway restaurants, service stations and roadside hotels, to families living in mountain communities.’

The “BP Travel Award” is an annual award of £5,000, to allow artists to experience working in a different environment on a project related to portraiture. It is open to applications from any of the BP Portrait Award-exhibited artists.

In addition, the work of the “BP Travel Award 2011” winner Jo Fraser is on display at this year’s exhibition. Fraser travelled to Peru to observe and paint the textile producers in indigenous communities. The subjects are shown sitting in an arc, as Fraser wanted to suggest that the viewer was sitting in on the daily occasion of their weaving. Fraser has always been fascinated by the geometric aesthetic of Andean hand-weaving, the allegorical symbolism within their designs and the ritualistic purposes for which they are created. She initiated contact with the weaving community she depicts through Awamaki, a small Peruvian non-governmental organisation (NGO). Awamaki works to protect the endangered textile traditions of two impoverished weaving communities by providing the female workers with access to a market for their work. Fraser stayed in the community of Patacancha, a village which sits at 12,600 ft, the lower of the two communities the NGO works with.

The competition was judged from original paintings by this year’s panel: Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London; Dr Augustus Casely-Hayford, Curator and Cultural Historian; Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery; Martin Jennings, Sculptor; Nicola Kalinsky, Interim Director, Scottish National Portrait Gallery; and Des Violaris, Director UK Arts & Culture, BP.

Supported by BP, the exhibition will tour to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, from 3 November 2012 until 27 January 2013 and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter from 9 February until 19 May 2013.

From 21st June until 23rd September 2012

At the National Portrait Gallery, 2 St. Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE, London.


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