In a world saturated with photography I was intrigued by the reaction of underlined project participants to seeing themselves in beautifully crafted documentation drawings made by Adam Wilson at our previous workshops. There was something that connected people to each other as they saw distinctive parts of themselves and their group depicted in a non-photorealistic way. The drawings were evidence of a human interaction. Someone, through a simple line drawing, had valued them enough to take the time to draw them and their group.
This experience has set me thinking about how much image – how we see ourselves and how we are seen by others – impacts on ‘othering’ and social exclusion. Images (positive or negative) influence our perceptions, judgements and pre-conceived ‘ideals’, they impact on our prejudices, expectations and openness to each other; They influence how we see ourselves and how we treat others.
So, here’s some thoughts about the ‘power of portraiture’..
Jason Wilsher-Mills works with marginalised groups to create characters and portraits that communicate their world in a wider socio-political context
Lionel Smit, Anatomical Fragment Series #1, 2011
Lionel Smit creates large-scale portraits and sculptures that incorporate both classical ideals of beauty and painterly marks that disrupt the classical image. His work references the ethnic mix of Cape town, South Africa, where he lives and works.
Tanya Raabe-Webber uses the power of portraiture to open debate and provoke conversation about disability, art and culture. In her work, she invites a high-profile disabled person to sit for a portrait in a public venue like the National Portrait Gallery with an invited audience. Alongside Tanya creating her portrait (from a mixture of observation and projected public domain images) a discussion takes place with the sitter and the audience, who are encouraged to draw the person themselves. Tanya’s final piece incorporates some of the group’s drawings. Here, the process of engagement raises issues of inclusion and exclusion, social value and perceptions. Tanya was one of the first artists to participate in ArtLink’s Square Peg project
The power of personal depiction and the potential to use group participation to contribute to documenting a shared experience could form an intriguing basis for future underlined project workshops.
for more information about the artists mentioned here click the links below: