CBPP: Contact at Cass Art

Having previously captured work by the Contemporary British Portrait Painters (CBPP) at exhibitions in London and Oxford, The Net Gallery was thrilled to partner with the organisation again to scan the latest show, Contact, at Cass Art’s gallery space in Islington.

Organised by artist and CBPP member Martyn Burdon, Contact showcases work celebrating the human proximity, interaction and face to face examinations that are the very oxygen of portraiture. Many of the featured pieces were originally selected for the 2020 BP Award at the National Portrait Gallery, but could not be exhibited in the flesh at the time. Contact aims to give a platform for these and other works, created before and during the various COVID-19 lockdowns.

The virtual tour of Contact is available to view now via the CBPP’s profile page on The Net Gallery website.

Here, we look at five pieces included in the show.

Martyn Burdon – ‘Sir Lenny Henry’

Martyn Burdon – ‘Sir Lenny Henry’ (2020). 62 x 52 cm. Acrylic on Panel.

This portrait of Sir Lenny Henry was painted after Martyn saw the much loved actor performing in the Theatre Royal Stratford East’s production of the August Wilson play ‘King Hedly II’. 

Laura Quinn Harris – ‘Pae Yun Sok’

Laura Quinn Harris – ‘Pae Yun Sok’ (2019). 30 x 40 cm. Oil on Board.

Pae Yun Sok is a worker at the Hungnam Fertiliser Complex in Hamhung, North Korea – the country’s largest fertiliser plant. Founded during the Japanese occupation in 1927, the plant was completely destroyed in the Korean War, before being rebuilt in the 1950s. Pae Yun Sok has worked there for over 35 years. The painting is part of an ongoing series of portraits of North Koreans that Laura has been working on since visiting the country for the second time in 2018.

Casper White – ‘TikToker and a lost painting’

Casper White – ‘TikToker and a lost painting’ (2021). 30 x 24 cm. Oil on Linen.

This painting was made during the coronavirus pandemic and was based ON a TikTok video. Over the past eighteen months, Casper spent more time on the TikTok app than with sitters and people in real life. One of a number of oil sketches made of performer Paulalmao, this pose reminded the artist of a lost but now recovered painting by Velazquez. The necktie is taken directly from that work by the great Spanish artist.

Lucy Stopford – ‘Biography’

Lucy Stopford – ‘Biography’ (2019). 84 x 47 cm. Charcoal on Paper.

This Charcoal work was drawn from life in one sitting. The portrait is of one of Lucy’s friends, an LA screenwriter. At the time of the sitting, the subject had just launched an autobiographical book based on her travels. The drawing is called ‘Biography’ and it is intended to explore the relationship between biography and portraiture. The face is half shown or half hidden, to reflect what is revealed and what is concealed, in portraiture, as it is in writing.

Charles Moxon – ‘Sharmadean Reid’ 

Charles Moxon – ‘Sharmadean Reid’ (2020). 30 x 25 cm. Oil on Panel.

This portrait is of Sharmadean Reid MBE, a British entrepreneur and advocate for women’s empowerment, known for her impact on the beauty industry. The painting references 16th century portraiture, both technically and in composition, particularly Hans Holbein’s portraits of businessmen in the Hanseatic League.

Sharmadean was the founder of WAH nails and the prominent position of her hands on the table echoes the nail salon experience. Sittings took place at the artist’s London studio in late 2019, where the still-life and table were constructed to aid the composition.

Exhibition Details


The Art Space, Cass Art Islington

1st – 31st August, 2021

The virtual tour is available to view now via the CBPP’s profile page on The Net Gallery website.

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