The battle lines have been painted...
For the first time in the history of the BP Portrait Awards, an artist couple have both qualified as competition finalists.
Henrietta Graham, 42 and her husband Tim Hall, 49, are to make a double entry in the finals of this year’s awards, as both a painter and a subject – as well as a couple.
It is the first time in the award’s 25-year-history that a couple have been featured together, and that there has been someone who has been both a painter and a sitter for a portrait among the finalists.
So what are the final portraits?
Mr Hall’s entry is a portrait of Mrs Graham in her studio, which has been picked alongside Ms Graham’s own 7ft painting of TV personality chef James Martin.
Mrs Graham is currently working on a book of chef’s portraits, which she was inspired to do when her studio was next to one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. She became a friend of Ramsay and was allowed into the kitchen to sketch the cooks at work.
Usually a private artist, Mrs Graham said it was “really weird” to be painted while working, and it was this intimacy her husband was keen to capture.
The Cornish couples’ work will be shown together in the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
Is there some tough competition to get on the shortlist?
The BP Portrait Award is one of the world’s leading art competitions, and this year attracted a record 2,337 entries from 71 countries. Just 55 were chosen for the shortlist.
The award is judged anonymously, so it was pure chance that the couple were both chosen for the final exhibition.
Was the couple’s meeting a work of art or a chance encounter?
The pair met in a village popular with watercolourists in Cornwall. Mrs Graham had abandoned her work to go and buy a pint of milk and found Hall painting 100 metres from her front door.
They still live in the village of Mousehole today.
Is it all about the, erm, Monet?
The winner of the whopping £30,000 prize will be announced on June 24, and exhibition will be on show afterwards until September.