Danube Travel – BP Portrait Awards

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The National Portrait Gallery in London (half way between Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square, right behind the National Gallery) is one of my favourite London museums or galleries and each year the BP Portrait Award – ‘the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world’ – is one of my favourite events there. It’s on right now until 23 September 2018.

Short listed painters who don’t take out one of the big prizes are also eligible to apply for the Travel Awards, which funds them to go travelling and bring back portraits from their travels to be shown at the following year’s exhibit. This year I was one of the judges for the Travel Awards and we decided the winning painter was Robert Seidel, who is German from Leipzig.

◄ This is David, his entry in the BP Portrait Award from a visit to San Francisco. Robert is going to travel down the Danube River using a variety of forms of transport including bicycle and paint portraits of the people he encounters.



The Danube flows through four European capitals and coincidentally I’ve visited all of them in the past few years. In March this year I was in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

▲ Looking down on New Bridge or Nový most and other Danube River bridges from Bratislava Castle. Officially it’s SNP (‘Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising’) but it’s often referred to as Most Slovenského národného povstania or the UFO Bridge because of what looks like a flying saucer landing on top of it.

▲ Our MGBs board a Danube River ferry as we cross from Bulgaria into Romania.

Last year my Silk Road trip – driving from Bangkok to London in an old MGB sports car – took me through Budapest in Hungary and Vienna in Austria on the last week of our long drive. I had visited both cities on earlier occasions. Two years earlier in late-2015 I visited Belgrade in Serbia, hometown of Nikola Tesla. The international airport is named after him and he also has a fine museum in the city.