Ant n Jed’s Big Night Out

In 1993 I Won 1st prize in the B.P Portrait Award. The prize includes  a commission to paint a portrait that will become part of the NPG’s permanent collection. After a little negotiation I painted the Royal Ballet’s former principal male dancer and at that time head-honcho Sir Anthony Dowell.

When the portrait was completed  and framed I received an invitation to the unveiling.

I had anticipated a low-key affair, I was mistaken.

The reception, meal and unveiling was perhaps the swankiest affair that I have ever been involved in.

At the reception I quickly realised that I was completely out of my depth.

The highlights included cracking a particularly shit joke to Darcy Bussell, Asking principal dancer Jonathan Cope what he did, getting completely blanked by Andrew O Neil and spaying water all over the front of my trousers (The NPG restroom’s powerful faucets and shallow basin design having made this something of a cherished tradition).

The dining room was packed with the great, the good, apparently every member of the Royal Ballet and a number of people who were in my view of debatable merit. 

Perhaps 15 tables of 8. 

I don’t know who was paying.

To my delight I was seated with the great British artist Eduardo Paolozzi. After shaking his great sausage hand I was keen to talk to him about art and he was keen to talk to me about ice cream, so we talked about ice cream.

At some stage he took a graphite stick out of his pocket and drew something with it, no idea what as he carefully pocketed the no doubt valuable sketch. 

I did keep the graphite stick as a souvenir though.

At some stage it was decided that everyone was arse-holed enough to risk Jeremy Isaacs doing the unveiling. 

No one booed.

Feeling every bit as uncomfortable as I looked.

Sir Anthony Dowell looking perfectly comfortable. 

Portrait of Sir Anthony Dowell, 36” x 16”, Oil on Linen, 1994

NPG permanent collection.

The biggest highlight of the evening was accidentally turning down the opportunity to paint the portrait of Lady Diana, but that’s another Blog.

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