Paul Benney on Newsnight Discussing BP Sponsorship of the National Portrait Gallery Portrait Award

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Paul Benney, who has exhibited at 8 BP Portrait Awards, won the public choice award twice and been shortlisted twice, appeared in discussion on BBC Newsnight, continuing his questioning of BP's sponsorship of the National Portrait Gallery BP Award. Benney appeared as one of the high profile signatories of a letter to the gallery director, written in disapproval of the oil companies continued association with the prize, due to their continued record as one of the world’s worst polluters and drivers of environmental destruction, hugely exacerbating the environmental crisis. The letter was sent urging the gallery to not simply acknowledge the climate emergency, but to act accordingly. Gary Hume, another of the signatories stated "Recognising that we are in a climate emergency means taking steps that we might not have planned for and, for me, refusing to launder the oil industry’s image is a step that the art world now needs to take.’

This follows a series of high-profile protests by artists and campaigners against BP and other global oil corporations at UK cultural institutions ranging from the National Portrait Gallery to the Royal Opera House and the British Museum. Actor Mark Rylance recently resigned from the Royal Shakespeare Company claiming that BP’s sponsorship deal allowed the company to “obscure the destructive reality of its activities" he also stated that "... I do not wish to be associated with BP any more than I would with an arms dealer, a tobacco salesman or anyone who wilfully destroys the lives of others alive and unborn.”

You can watch the episode here, discussion begins 20 mins in.

For further information on Paul Benney click here