Belfast Telegraph

Ian Cumberland’s hard-living image in frame for top art prize

By Connla Young

A Co Down artist has been nominated for a prestigious art prize.

Banbridge native Ian Cumberland is one of just four artists out of more than 2,300 entries to be shortlisted for the coveted BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery.

The lucky winner will scoop £25,000 and receive a commission worth £4,000.

The local artist is also eligible for the BP Young Artist Award and stands a chance of pocketing £5,000.

Ian’s entry into the awards, ‘Just To Feel Normal’, is a 5ft x 3.5ft portrait of a friend who was going through a tough time.

He said: “This is a painting of a friend whose story is like many others from my generation, who have fallen victim to themselves and the grinding pressures of life.

“The title, Just To feel Normal, refers to his answer when I asked why he continues along his chosen path.

“He was, however, a bit hung-over and didn’t have much sleep during the painting, which enabled me to create an even more powerful image.

“My painting style has progressed quite dramatically over recent years.

“It’s hard to describe, as you really need to see the painting in life to fully appreciate the approach I’m now taking.

“I’ve been painting these larger-than-life heads for the past year or two — this one is more than 5ft high.

“It allows my focus to shift towards the actual painting process and how to use paint as a material to describe the subject.

“Hopefully my paintings fit into a more contemporary art practice rather than the traditional idea of portraiture, which is solely about the sitter.

“I hope the image will act as a trigger to help reveal something about society in a much broader sense.

“It's a real compliment to be even asked to exhibit in the BP Portrait Award, so to be shortlisted for a major prize is a genuine honour and I'm delighted,” he added.

Belfast Telegraph


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