Back & Forth

‘I’m the kind of person who combs their hair to answer the door to the postman.’

‘Those trousers are saying watercolour to me.’

‘You’re acknowledging the subjectivity of the process. The creator, sitter, audience; we’re all aware …’

This sequence shows two series of four paintings of two sitters. I felt that both sitters engaged with the performative possibilities of the sittings. After the initial sittings I discussed the pictures with them and what had taken place, in terms of pose, stillness or movement, conversation, clothes or hair or jewellery. It seemed to me that the sitters then made adjustments for the next sitting to help make a good portrait.

One of these sitters is professionally involved in the performing arts. I wonder what it might mean for the process of Dialogic Portraits when I hear actors and directors speak: ‘Everything is somewhere hidden in every human being’ (Peter Brook), ‘We’re all so multi-faceted, … we just have to find those bits of us. It’s all there’ (Olivia Colman), ‘When you get that energy that goes from the stage to the audience and it’s reinforced and sent back to you, it’s just marvellous’ (Glenda Jackson).

‘The Father: Conversation with Olivia Colman & Anthony Hopkins’, AFI, YouTube, 21 October 2020.
‘Peter Brook: Glenda Jackson interviews world famous theatre director Peter Brook’, BBC R4, 15 April 2021

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