Getting the sparkle back

By DomesticGoddess


This photo is taken from The Long Look, a fascinating exhibition at the Portrait Gallery on Queen Street. I will say straight away that the gallery (with the consent of the artists who are the copyright holders) gave permision for photos to be taken of this exhibition and posted online.

I hope you will be able to see the individual photos - go as large as you can!

Here the information on the website which I think you need to make sense of this series of photos:

"The Long Look is a collaboration between the painter Audrey Grant and the photographer and printmaker Norman McBeath. It explores the art of portraiture beyond the conventional artist and sitter relationship, revealing what became a unique creative exchange between the two artists.

Audrey asked Norman to sit for a portrait in charcoal, said this would take 'weeks probably months' and asked him to photograph the drawing at the end of each sitting. She would then erase the drawing at the start of the next sitting and begin the portrait anew. Norman was intrigued by the way Audrey was working which led him to photograph aspects of this process such as Audrey's hands, the sitter's chair, the charcoal. He said 'I became fascinated by the sheer physicality of Audrey's drawing: the constant back and forth to the easel, the scrapes, rubs and wipes of the charcoal and cloth on the paper, the sharp snap of a new piece of black willow.' Audrey completed the portrait after two years of sittings and in tandem worked on another portrait of Norman and two long-durational portraits of the award-winning crime writer Val McDermid.  The four finished portraits, along with images of all the versions of the drawings that no longer exist, and Norman's photographs will be on display in this fascinating and revelatory exhibition."

As regards this Hands Series by Norman McBeath:

"The photographs Norman took of Audrey's hands form the largest series he created as part of the Long Look. Hands upturned and held out after working on the drawings for two hours reveal her palms engrained with charcoal dust and protective tape round her fingers. The different lines, marks and pattern she saw on Audrey's hands drew Norman into phtotographing them again and again. Returning to them enabled him to look at the differences in each individual sitting including the pace, difficulty and energy of each of the sessions. With these images Norman was seeking to make visible a closeness between the drawing and its making."

L and I really liked that the final photo showed the hands at peace at last! The exhibition is on until 27th October if you would like to see it for yourself.

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