My paintings are depictions of women in their ‘finery’, from Tudor Portraits, Bunny Girls, Circus Girls to Contemporary Celebrities. I am fascinated and intrigued by the theatre and presentation that one goes through being a woman and by the signs and symbols that are used to signify us. Hans Holbein was commissioned by wealthy patrons to paint flattering portraits. Henry VIII was first introduced to his prospective wives via paintings that bore no resemblance to their flattering depictions that had arrived in advance from abroad. These paintings were the equivalent of today’s social media, advertisements and women’s magazines etc. All designed to flatter and deceive. Painting then was political, as well it can be now.
My paintings are a commentary on the Art of Portraiture itself. I want to draw the viewer in, to seduce them by the art of painting. To entice with jewels, silks, and lace, I want to make you look, admire and love what you see. Like a theatre or circus act I want to entertain and suspend disbelief, to take you away from the everyday. I want you to fall in love like Henry VIII did. I do not always seek out to present a specific person or the person behind the mask. I am actually looking at the mask.
Sunglasses have become a trademark look of celebrity, saying ‘Look at Me, Don’t look at me’ and apart from Alex Katz’s paintings, are rarely depicted in ‘serious’ portraiture. We as viewers are blocked, to use the language of social media, from seeing into the soul that may or may not have been sold to the devil. Social Media has replaced the hand held pocket miniature that used to be secreted away for private viewing, and now as women we find ourselves at both ends of the telescope, viewing and being viewed.