Sir Peter Blake

First patron of the John Moores Painting Prize

Sir Peter Blake has been named as the first patron of the John Moores Painting Prize, the UK's biggest painting competition.

He will represent the competition and has taken on this role 50 years after winning the Junior section of John Moores 3 with his painting 'Self Portrait with Badges' in 1961.

Peter Blake is perhaps most famous for designing the cover of The Beatles' album, 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' (1967). However, he has been a prolific artist during his career and his status in the art world far exceeds Sgt. Pepper's.

The Walker Art Gallery also hosted   'An Alphabet', in 2011. This was a display of one of Peter Blake's alphabet series, made up of 26 silkscreen prints.

Sir Peter Blake

Video transcript

On art:

Well I think painting pictures will always be the kind of core of making art, it was ever thus. Since art existed people have painted images, so that wont stop.

On winning the John Moores junior painting prize in 1961:

I left college in '56, the royal college, did a year scholarship travelling in Europe studying popular art and then slowly started to establish myself as a painter and I just started to teach. I certainly took the time off during the summer holiday to make the picture.

So I would have started on it end of July and worked through to October specifically for it to go to the John Moores. I knew all about it and it was a very good prize at the time and it still is, but I mean it was something that was nice to win. Most of the artists went in for it, I mean Lucien Freud did that year and Hockney. A lot of painters entered it, it was something that we all did.

On 'Self portrait with badges' from John Moore's 1961:

Well, I think the self portrait at the time, it was probably as simple as the fact that I was available. I didn't have a model, you can't take anyone's time for a long time but I was there. I think what was interesting about it was that although artists wore denim and a few of us wore baseball boots, it wasn't in common usage, I mean to see denim was quite rare.

So it was a fantasy picture really, it was an adult almost dressing up as a child and wearing lots of badges to tell you what they were interested in. What I was wearing wouldn't have been common wearage at the time, it was set up.

On his 80th birthday:

Well I started being an artist at the age of 14 so it's been 56 years as a student and then an artist so yeah it's becoming a long career. It's had its high points, it's had its bad points, I think most of anything that can be called an ambition I think I have achieved.

Probably the one that once was an ambition and no longer is, was to be in the Venice Biennale and I think my moment went and somebody else was chosen and I might have been. So that's gone so I can kind of tick it off as not going to happen now. Most of the things I've wanted to do, strangely, I've done.