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‘Nothing but an honour’: new Stormzy portrait hung in National Portrait Gallery | Music

A photographic portrait of Stormzy has been hung in the National Portrait Gallery in what its director describes as a “contemporary intervention”.

The image by Mark Mattock, on display from today, features the Croydon rapper wearing a crown made up of the letters HITH, standing for Heavy Is the Head, the name of his new album which will be released on Friday 13 December. He is pictured gazing at the Banksy-designed stab-proof vest he wore for his headline performance at 2019’s Glastonbury festival.

Stormzy’s portrait, taken by Mark Mattock.



Stormzy’s portrait, taken by Mark Mattock.

Stormzy said it was “nothing but an honour” to be “exhibited in a gallery which exhibits so many incredible portraits of those from British history”.

Gallery director Nicholas Cullinan said he was delighted to exhibit the portrait “as a contemporary intervention within our historic galleries, and hope to be able to acquire the work for the gallery’s permanent collection. Stormzy has undoubtedly had a significant influence on British culture today, both through his music and work with minority groups and young people, and we hope our visitors will enjoy the juxtaposition of this new work with historic paintings of influential figures from the Victorian era, from politicians, royalty and radicals to artists, sporting heroes and singers.”

It is not the first portrait of Stormzy to go on show at the gallery. Two photographs by Olivia Rose were acquired by the NPG this year, a solo portrait of Stormzy and another alongside his mother Abigail Owuo – the former is currently on show in the gallery’s room 29.

Anticipation is high for Stormzy’s second album. Its first single, Vossi Bop, went straight to No 1 in the UK charts and spent nine weeks in the Top 5; a second single, Crown, reached No 4, and features the Shakespeare-riffing lyric quoted in the album title: “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.”

A third single, Own It, is currently at No 3. That track is Stormzy’s second Ed Sheeran collaboration of the year, with their song Take Me Back to London spending five weeks at No 1 in September.

This week Stormzy announced a 55-date world tour beginning on 10 February, that will include dates in Europe, Asia, Australasia, North America and Africa, including 13 dates in the UK. It will finish in Lagos, Nigeria, on 10 October.

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