> Uncategorized

Portrait Prize 2024: Prize Winners Announced

The RBSA is proud to present the 2024 Portrait Prize Exhibition. First held in 2019, this exhibition is a celebration of portraiture in all its forms.

This year’s exhibition was selected by:

  • John Devane, RBSA Honorary Professor of Painting; Professor of Painting, Centre of Arts, Memories and Communications, Coventry University
  • Marta Kochanek, multi-award winning photography artist
  • Professor Jennifer Powell, Director of The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Following the opening of our Portrait Prize 2024 Exhibition on Tuesday 7 May, we are pleased to announce the Prize Winners!

Please see the selected works below.


GMC Trust First Prize, £1000:

Roy Eastland, Mum, 2024, Gold and Silverpoint Drawing on Gesso on Board

The starting point for this portrait is a tiny identity-card image of the artist’s mother. It has been endlessly re-drawn, over the course of a few years, in silver and goldpoint, and with needles, scalpel blades and sandpaper. The hope is always to get at something which feels true. Lines of handwritten text also form part of the piece. The repeatedly re-written lines of remembered speech are, as with the drawing of the face, drawn, scratched away and re-drawn again and again. Only fragments and glimpses remain.

Metalpoint lines leave an indelible but ever so slight trace; pressing the point harder will not make the lines any more strongly present. This is a drawing as a kind of meditation on human presence and memory.


Galliard Apsley Partnership Second Prize, £500:

Frances Featherstone, Motherly Loves, 2024, Oil

Frances Featherstone is a contemporary artist working from her studio in East Sussex. She has a BA (Hons) Degree (1st Class) in Fine Art from the University of the West of England.

This painting is part of a series celebrating a true modern miracle of birth, as two women come together to each be a biological mother to a child. Vanessa is holding her wife’s baby, a scene which achieves unusual balance because next time her wife will carry her baby. The composition reflects their interconnectedness, with Vanessa lying diagonally across the canvas and the circle completed by the embrace of her wife.

Frances Featherstone exhibits regularly across the UK and has recently exhibited at the Mall Galleries with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters


Judd Medical Third Prize, £250:

Christy Burdock, The Dress Code, 2023, Oil on Canvas

This piece depicts a scene that Christy Burdock witnessed as she was researching a rural community in a remote part of England. The farmers she was talking with had lived intertwined with the land and its animals, for generations. They had fingers like sausages and hands like spades. The countryside is deep in politics and she was interested in the interface between them, farmers, and herself, city dwelling, contemporary artist. There were similarities in their lives. The dissimilarities were multiple, they lived by the weather, skies and for animals and the land. She lived for paintings, people, graphite, paper, paint and canvas. They worked continuously, barring illness or death.


Student Prize, £250:

Olivia-Rose Barns, Mummy Ji, 2024, Photography


Highly Commended:

Martin Brent Guest GRBSA, Sarah and Daniel, 2022, C-Type Photographic Print

A continuation of Martins ‘Night Shift’ project, an exploration of the effects of the shift from daylight to night, how it affects the landscape and the people inhabiting it. Humans have sought to mitigate the dark, from the cave to modern mega cities the humans ‘victory’ over the dark lasts as long as the flame or electrical supply holds out. In our lit cities, even in our beds we still feel a primal unease in the shadows.

Steve Caldwell, Christina, 2024, Acrylic on Wood Panel


Martyn Harris ARBSA, Paul’s Emporium, 2023, Oil

The portrait was produced following the development of a close collaboration between the sitter and the artist. It proved possible to explore the contextual and creative aspects to be examined. The portrait reflects elements of the sitter’s day-to-day life as experienced in his own Antique Emporium situated in Cradley Heath. Paul is depicted surrounded by his collectables in an attempt to portray him in his natural environment. An important aspect of the work is concerned with the artist’s desire to provide the viewer with a strong narrative and insight into his life and culture.

The portrait was also exhibited at The Royal Society of Portrait Artist’s annual exhibition in 2023 and awarded the Smallwoods Architect’s Prize for Contextual Portraiture.


Paul Jessett, Self-Portrait in Shiny Round Balloon, 2024, Oil on Canvas

In his exploration of portraiture, distortion and illusionistic space, Paul Jessett plays with the multifaceted nature of human perception. Through an interplay of form and context, he seeks to challenge conventional notions of representation, inviting viewers to question the boundaries between reality and illusion. Portraits serve as vessels for introspection, offering glimpses into the complexities of identity and emotion. The foil balloon not only acts as a device to disrupt the picture plane but also as narrative, using the accessible and familiar to create something complex and challenging. By distorting familiar features and manipulating spatial relationships, the artist creates a dynamic dialogue between subject and viewer. The ordinary becomes extraordinary, challenging viewers to confront their preconceptions and delve deeper into the realm of human experience.


Andy Newell, Dean, 2023, Photography


Carlos Womack, Krys

Womack works predominantly in oil paint and uses exaggerated colour choices, decisive mark making, and dynamic compositions to represent his subjects. He sketches from life and then translate these sketches into larger oil paintings in his kitchen studio. Womack paints his friends and strangers during moments of community, interaction, contemplation and most importantly if he notices himself in them. These are moments that, if conveniently documented, would remain forgotten in a camera roll. Accurate representation of his subject’s character is paramount to Womack’s work. Womack doesn’t feel he is successful in whoever he chooses unless some identifiable characteristic of his subject is present. Whether it is a facial feature, a colour combination, a fashion choice, or a mannerism; there is no formula to how Womack represents my subjects, it’s much more that he knows it when he sees it and pushes that aspect in each composition.


Jiaxuan Yi, Where My Friends Will Sing No More, 2024, Oil on Linen


You can visit the Portrait Prize 2024 exhibition till Saturday 8 June.

Join some of the exhibiting artists for a guided tour of the exhibition from 2pm on Saturday 18 May

An exhibition catalogue featuring all the works in the exhibition is now available both in-store and online.