Just a couple of artists making history

(Picture: Tim Hall)

The battle lines have been painted...

For the first time in the history of the BP Portrait Awards, a couple who are both artists have qualified as finalists.

Henrietta Graham, 42 and her husband Tim Hall, 49, will make a double entry in the finals of this year’s competition as painter and subject – as well as a couple.

It is the first time in the 25 years of the awards that a couple have been featured together, and that there has been someone who has been both a painter and a sitter for a portrait among the finalists.

So what are the final portraits?

Mr Hall’s entry is a portrait of Mrs Graham in her studio, which has been picked alongside Ms Graham’s own 7ft painting of the television chef James Martin (below).

Mrs Graham is currently working on a book of portraits of chefs, which she was inspired to do when she had a studio next to one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants.

She became a friend of Ramsay and was allowed into his kitchen to sketch the cooks at work. Usually a private artist, Mrs Graham said it was “really weird” to be painted while working, and it was this intimacy that her husband was keen to capture.

Work by the couple will be shown together in the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

(Picture: Henrietta Graham)

Is there some tough competition to get on the shortlist?

The BP Portrait Award is one of the world’s leading art competitions, and this year attracted a record 2,337 entries from 71 countries.

Just 55 were chosen for the shortlist. The winner is judged anonymously, so it was pure chance that the couple were both chosen for the final.

Was the couple’s meeting a work of art or a chance encounter?

Graham and Hall had both moved from London to the picturesque fishing village of Mousehole in Cornwall, a spot beloved of painters.

They met when she stopped work to nip out for a pint of milk, and found Hall sitting painting 100 metres from her front door.

They now live in an old net loft in the village, and paint in a converted barn nearby.

Is it all about the, erm, Monet?

The winner of the £30,000 prize will be announced on 24 June. The works will then go on public display at the National Portrait Gallery from 26 June to 21 September, along with 52 of the other entries.

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