Self-portrait wins first £20k Lock prize

A self-portrait by Frances Bell has won the inaugural William Lock award at the annual Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibition at the Mall Galleries, worth £20,000.

Born in 1983 and raised in Suffolk, on leaving school Bell studied painting and drawing in Venice for three years before returning to embark on her career as a portrait and landscape painter.

“Self-portraits are always fascinating territory for me, because I think in omitting so many of the influences that typically make up a portrait - the other people, the conversations you have with them, their faces, their ideas, mixed with your ideas lifted onto the canvas - instead of that, you have yourself” she said. “You're on your own, you are the sitter and painter. It's a very introspective and sort of circular atmosphere that comes through, and it's quite different for me.

“I can't believe that the painting has received recognition, let alone in such company, so I'm absolutely over the moon.”

The William Lock Portrait Prize for the Most Timeless Picture was awarded for a portrait with “a real feeling for paint and its aesthetic potential” in the exhibition, which runs from today, May 6, until May 15.

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