A Guest Post by Arthur T
Few can have failed to have been impressed by viewing press coverage of the latest portrait of Her Majesty. The work was commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and is by Spanish-born (in 1967) Miriam Escofet, an artist working in London. She is the daughter of artist Jose Escofet. Her family moved to London in 1979. I don’t doubt that it will be the taxpayer who foots the bill, thus it should be something that would interest our national broadcaster.
It’s no use, though, looking to the BBC for information on this subject. As far as I can see, the only record they have of the event, is a 30 second Local TV clip on Youtube delivered with an ‘and finally’ smirk from the sofa - concentrating on HM’s quip that no tea was shown in the teacup.
Not only does this appear to be the only reference from ‘across the BBC’, but the still image of HM sitting in a stateroom had been cropped to show little of the context and space of the portrait, a decision which reduced greatly the impact of the work. One might expect the camera to pan in and out again - but no.
Personally, I find the likeness in HM’s face to be poor. I can’t believe she would use make-up in such a way as that depicted. There is the inevitable difficulty of using photographs instead of live sitting to capture the correct perspective. In my view, the head is too small, and the body depicted as unnecessarily stout. HM is small in stature. Nevertheless, the detail of the dress, the carpet, the furniture, the gilding, the flower arrangement and the bottom half of the wall-mounted painting are superb. (In my view, that the painting on the wall lacks symbolism and is confirmation that the work was painstakingly derived from a photograph).
Miriam Escofet is known to the BBC.
There’s an article from 2018:
The artist’s attention to detail speaks for itself, it’s a spectacular piece of work showing us through the narrative some of the character of the subject - homemaker and matriarch.
The portrait’s absence from the various BBC platforms is in sharp contrast to the Marc Quinn Jen Reid sculpture, which was all across BBC. See recent guest post: The BBC’s over-narrow perspective. It was a hastily constructed replacement for the vandalised Colston statue in Bristol, an event that was hailed heartily by the BBC.
Why might this work, from this artist, be excluded from BBC News? Is it that they don’t like the artist? Independent woman (tick), Spanish born (tick), daughter of artist (tick), attended Brighton School of Art (tick).
From above BBC News website, Arts and Entertainment pages, 2018:
A slightly surreal portrait of an artist's elderly mother drinking a cup of tea has won the BP Portrait Award.Miriam Escofet said she wanted An Angel at My Table to show "the universal mother". Judges praised its "constraint and intimacy".Her mother Alma Escofet is shown taking tea, but a closer look reveals some objects on the table seem to be moving.The artist said winning was "completely amazing and slightly surreal", adding: "I'm just coming back to earth."She was awarded £35,000 and a gallery commission worth £7,000 at the National Portrait Gallery. Escofet, who was born in Barcelona and lives in London, had been selected for the BP Portrait award exhibition four times previously.
Seemingly, the stage would be set for a follow-up story, keeping the afternoon tea theme in HM’s portrait, from an artist the BBC have featured before. Looking more closely however, we note that it was the BP Portrait award Escofet won in 2018. To some of the Beeboid XR sympathisers, the very mention of BP would be taboo. BP are being stripped of their longstanding sponsorship roles:
There’s that word “Royal’ again. BP fit into the ‘symbols of white British oppression’ category meaning their name must not be spoken.
Added to that is the Englishness of the Escofet scene - palace stateroom, servants not far away, afternoon tea from Crown Derby or Royal Doulton teacups - and the monarchy itself. In the BBC sphere, art is not art unless it has a strong political message - Will would tell us - and that message must always carry a left-wing message - Christian, or Western art filled with familiar symbolism has no place in the BBC. Conversely, every nozzle stroke of Banksy is revered.
I fear we have reached the point where statues and now portraits must conform to the narrow BBC worldview and rewritten history before it is acknowledged. Vandalism is the preferred form.