The National Portrait Gallery and the BBC Unveil their Joint Painted Portrait Commission of Falklands Hero Simon Weston
The National Portrait Gallery and the BBC today unveiled their first joint painted portrait commission - of Falklands War veteran Simon Weston by artist Nicky Philipps. Weston was voted last September by viewers of BBC One'sThe One Show as the public figure who most deserved to have his picture displayed at the National Portrait Gallery.
The finished portrait goes on display at the gallery for the first time today Thursday 20 March and to coincide with the launch of the broadcast in April of a major BBC ONE behind-the-scenes television documentary presented by Fiona Bruce, giving unprecedented access to the Gallery's portrait commissioning process.
The large full-length painting in oil (five feet by three) shows Weston at the artist's studio holding his medals and standing behind a chair on which is placed a Welsh Guards cap, symbolic of those lost in the bombing of Sir Galahad. His own cap was destroyed in battle. Artist Nicky Philipps wanted a clear and simple composition that allowed the strong character of the sitter to emerge, and with a focus on his face and hands. By featuring the cap and medals, including his OBE, she wanted to reflect both his military career and his work for charity - raising millions of pounds for good causes.
'I felt it was important to show Simon's hands', says Nicky Philipps, 'they were badly burned but he still has the use of them, and I wanted to show him holding his medals. The bright pinkish-red of the OBE in Simon's hands, draped over the chair, brings a flash of colour to the lower half of the picture which I feel is aesthetically satisfying'.
This portrait came about through The People's Portrait, a unique collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery and the BBC. Viewers of BBC One's The One Show were asked to vote for a sitter for a portrait to become part of the Gallery's Collection. Chosen from a shortlist of 12 individuals with very different achievements, Weston was announced as the winner in September 2013.
The one-off BBC One documentary The People's Portrait follows the process of painting the portrait and at the same time uncovers the extraordinary story of Simon Weston.
As Nicky and Simon get to know each other the portrait takes shape. As she paints, Nicky captures Simon's larger than life character, his positivity and his sense of humour.