So to balance out the blockbuster film and reality television this week, I took myself off to the National Portrait Gallery at lunchtime to see the Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition.
In previous years, this has been sponsored by Schweppes and previously by John Kobal but not this year. A special award was sponsored by Deloitte but there was no headline sponsor. This worries me somewhat, because as much as I was envious of the big galleries’ sponsorship deals when I was running the poverty-stricken children’s gallery, if the big names can’t get the sponsorship, what hope is there for the smaller arts organisations? Obviously, it would be great if the arts could get by without corporate sponsorship as there is still something quite distasteful about this idea, but in reality (at least in the UK and more so in the USA) it is increasingly necessary.
Anyway, end of rant and back to the art…
There were some really great photographs. I especially liked one entitled ‘Cyril’ which was an old man (the photographer’s grandfather) stood in a near empty room, having sold most of his furniture prior to moving into a home. Another one that stood out for me was a ‘The Wedding Car’, a photograph of a wedding band in Indian stood in front of car. Of those that won prizes, my favourite was the fourth prize, a picture of a young girl singing into a microphone with her gran playing keyboard, with Lake Placid in the background – its absurdity appealed to me.
With many of others though I didn’t really see what was so special about them – there were too many baby pictures for my liking, and one with an Ethiopian tribeswoman with a rifle seemed such a cliché. Still better than wandering aimlessly around H&M and Urban Outfitters in my lunchtime.