Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Well did you ever... 'Princess Julia in Meadham Kirchhoff' in the BP Awards 2014 - National Portrait Gallery - by Ben Ashton

Last week saw the grand unveiling of the National Portrait Gallery's annual BP Awards. Now in it's 25th year which went up last week. Yeah and you'll never guess what artist Ben Ashton did one of me. 'Princess Julia in Meadham Kirchhoff is quite a thing. Life size and quite imposing, here's what London Calling said... 'This year’s submissions certainly capture the spirit and personality of their subjects. Some of the more notable portraits include Ben Ashton’s painting of Princess Julia in Meadham Kirchhoff. Demonstrating a painting style suggestive of a fashion photograph, Ashton encapsulates the strong, fearless and imposing presence of Princess Julia on an otherwise bare canvas. Her unique fashion sense is unapologetic and bold, making this portrait one of the highlights of the exhibition.' 

It's painted on raw canvas so you know it's a painting,  Ashton's technique is what you might call hyperreal. When I went to the launch I noticed how people were peering at it closely. Fascinating.

Ben Ashton says...
I first painted Princess Julia back in 2010 for a charity auction. Since then she has been a fantastic advocate for my work and I have kept her in mind as a subject due to her striking looks and exceptional style. As Julia has held the title of Princess for many years, it seemed fitting for her to be portrayed as royalty. I proposed the regal concept to Julia, and it put her immediately in mind of the design duo Meadham Kirchoff. Their look is both reminiscent of a bygone era and completely modern, and perfectly suits this satirical take on a royal portrait.

I chose to leave the linen bare around her to really accentuate the richness of the garments. There is something quintessentially British about both monarchy and rebellion that is encapsulated in Julia's pose, and indeed in Julia herself. With her hands on her hips, echoing many a Tudor painting, she judges the viewer defiantly.

I also asked Julia to write a few of her own words about the painting, as I view this piece as a collaboration:

"There's nothing I like more than delving into the dressing up box. When Ben Ashton asked to paint me, we conjured up a spark of an idea and I immediately thought of designers Edward Meadham and Ben Kirchhoff. I have been an avid fan of their work for some time now; the world they create on the catwalk is fantastical and heady, a story unfolding. Likewise, Ben Ashton attends to his painterly detailing with intensity; his artistry is at once traditional and contemporary in execution. A story unfolds with each brush stroke."
                                                                                                           - Princess Julia.

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