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 my cracking a particularly shit joke to Darcy Bussell, Asking principal dancer Jonathan Cope what he did, getting blanked by Andrew O Neil and spraying 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 sausagey hand I was keen to talk to him about all things art, 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 to demosnstarte it’s merits, no idea what he drew 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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