Labour of Love – BT Portrait Award 2020
THIRD PRIZE AWARD
The subject of my entry in the 2020 BP Portrait Award is Tommy Robertson, the owner of an independent music store in Edinburgh. The store has been in business for more than three decades, selling second-hand records, instruments and video games, and I wanted to celebrate its eclectic individuality. It’s a very detailed painting. I wanted the viewer to feel like they are inside the shop and maybe a little overwhelmed, not knowing what to focus their attention on.
Visually, Tommy is engaging and the background is equally interesting. You could probably find something different in the painting each time you looked at it. The title Labour of Love refers to the UB40 album cover in the bottom left hand corner of the painting. It also reflects Tommy’s passion for music and the time I spent working on the painting.
The judges thought that this portrait was both poignant and funny. It definitely struck a chord as an allegory for a time and place that already feels nostalgic. It is a fascinating evocation of a particular male identity, for whom collecting is a passion and a way of life. The meticulous execution of the work also serves as a metaphor for the scene.