National Portrait Gallery’s ‘BP Portrait Award’

Our campaign so far…

Gary Hume

On the eve of the announcement of the BP Portrait Award 2019, one of the judges – artist Gary Hume – wrote to the Gallery’s Director calling for an end to BP’s sponsorship of the prize. Eight leading portrait artists previously shortlisted for the award multiple times – including two former winners –  echoed Hume’s demand in their own letter. Read the full story here.

NPG - BP PA banners


In 2017, we submitted a formal complaint to the National Portrait Gallery spelling out how its partnership with BP breached the Gallery’s own Ethics Policy, specifically on the issue of human rights. Read the complaint here and the background to it here.

Bad Company report cover


We compiled a report, ‘Bad Company: BP, human rights and corporate crimes’, which provided the evidence underpinning our formal complaint. You can find out more and read the full report here.




We brought together the story of BP’s sponsorship of the Portrait Award, including protests, the artists who’ve spoken out and the Gallery’s refusal to comment on BP’s ethics. Read it here.

Quick facts

BP sponsorship of the National Portrait Gallery

BP has been a sponsor of the Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery since 1989,  replacing the tobacco firm John Player.

  • BP’s Head of Arts, Culture and Paralympics Des Violaris sits on the prize’s judging panel, giving the oil company direct influence over the prize’s shortlist and winners.
  • The annual award ceremony is normally attended by BP’s CEO and high ranking executives, government ministers and journalists – a prime opportunity for the company to shore up its political and cultural influence.
  • The Portrait Award exhibition tours across the UK each year, allowing BP to promote this sponsorship deal to a wide audience.