In creating ‘Breech!’ Benjamin wanted to celebrate the love that had come into their lives and reflect on the worrisome time that the couple faced during Edith’s birth. Breech! depicts the artist’s wife Virginia breastfeeding their 8 month old daughter Edith, at a time when Sullivan says ‘a sense of calm descended after the usual period disarrangement that new parents face.’
The painting was made over four to five weeks in the artist’s studio when Edie’s cooperation was forthcoming.
Ben was seen with a baby at last year’s BP Portrait Award Ceremony where he was collecting his £8,000 third prize for his portrait of the poet Hugo Williams. Ben has been selected for this exhibition twelve times over the years. ‘Breech!’ is painted with tender observation. In the background, the paraphernalia of domestic life is depicted with the quality of a still life. The high observation point, vertical format and diagonal drive to the composition are all typical of Sullivan’s work.
The judges of the BP Portrait Award said that his portrait of Hugo that this work is ‘Finely rendered on a small scale, we thought the portrait gave us a strong sense of the presence of the sitter. The painting’s ageless quality is subtly balanced by the appearance of the modern wrist-watch.’