family portrait

Today I was fortunate enough to sneak a preview of the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Portrait Award 2015 exhibition ahead of its public launch tomorrow (June 18th). Last year I remember being disappointed by the dominance of celebrity faces, so was happy to discover family portraits prevailing this time. Third prize went to Borja Buces Renard for ‘My Mother and My Brother on a Sunday Evening’, a poignant depiction of Sundays spent as a family in the weeks before his father died. Another personal favourite was ‘The Red Chair’ by Maria Carbonell, a tribute to her parents and their 50-year marriage (below).

I’ve always been drawn to artists’ portrayals of the people they are closest to. They always feel so personal — you get to know the artist just as much as you do the muse.

I remember visiting the National Portrait Gallery’s 2012 Lucian Freud exhibition in the weeks before dad died and feeling envious of his daughters as I admired the numerous paintings of them. I love dad’s work depicting locals such as ‘Gordon at the Working Men’s Club’ or ‘Bert Porter picking Brussels sprouts’ (below).

But I wish there were more of his loved ones — my family.

Apart from a few drawings of me as a baby and a couple in childhood, the only portrait dad ever did of me was a rather quick sketch in 2001, the summer of my GCSE year, at the request of my then-boyfriend (see below).

I still don’t even particularly ‘like’ the drawing — my gaze seems melancholy, my nose protrudes too much. But this was how he saw me…and just staring at it, tracing my fingers across that battered sketch, I feel closer to dad.

Originally published at

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.