Portraits of Emotion

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In a world of selfies the art of portraiture may seem a self-indulgent or even an archaic act but artist Paul Digby has taken this art form and added a twist with his new exhibition Portraits of Emotion that opens at the Tetley, Leeds, 16 Jan to 1 March 2015.

I caught up with Paul to find out more about the art of portrait painting and also Gaynor, one of his models, who uses Osmondthorpe Day Centre, about why she wanted to pose and what it was like…….

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Paul Digby

Paul Digby has been working as an artist in Leeds for over 16 years and is a studio holder at East Street Arts’ Patrick Studios development. In 2012 he began a series of drawings based on people who live and work in Leeds, UK. The inspiration for the project was Charles Darwin’s Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Darwin illustrated his book with photographs taken by Duchenne de Boulogne of The Old Man. In Boulogne’s experiment electrodes were attached to the man’s face to evoke specific emotions, the man did not have nerve endings in his face so he supposedly could not feel any pain.  This idea was a catalyst for drawing portraits of people expressing emotions

Why did you choose portraiture?

I wanted to show that portraiture is still relevant to everyone so my models are people who might be thought of as socially excluded.

How did you find your models?

I discussed my idea with Paul Mason and Mick Ward, from Leeds City Council’s Adult Social Care services and Mick sent out a general email to day centres asking for volunteers.

Four people replied – from LEEP1, Health for All, the Association of Blind Asians and Gaynor from Osmondthorpe Day Centre run by Leeds City Council.

What happened next?

I met each of the volunteers, took their photos and painted the portraits at East St Arts studio. The photos provided a basis for the portraits which I “processed”.

Paula Boston, from the University of Leeds School of Medicine also interviewed each model to discuss how they felt about having their portrait painted you can read the interviews here.

You can find out more about Paul’s work and future exhibitions at his website.

I also arranged to meet with Gaynor to find out what encouraged her to become an artist’s model.

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Gaynor

Gaynor is a 42 year old physically impaired woman, who coincidently shares the same age and birthday as Paul. Paul and Gaynor have met before when he taught art sessions at Osmondthorpe Day Centre and at a Leeds City Art Gallery project which invited people to respond to selected artworks by producing their own.   Gaynor’s response was to produce something which illustrated her life as a physically impaired woman. Gaynor attends Osmondthorpe Day Centre where she enjoys acting and other activities and is also an enthusiastic gym member at Holt Park Active.

Gaynor, what inspired you to become a model?

I wanted to promote positivity in disability and reduce the stigma of it always being negative. I can feel downbeat about myself so it is good to challenge it.

What was it like being a model?

Quite painless really, Paul and I met up and he took several photos, I chose the one he based the portrait on.

Has the portrait achieved what you wanted?

I like the portrait, it makes me appear very positive, out-going and cheerful. The portrait shows me not my disability. Though, I hadn’t realised the picture was going to be so large.

Thanks Gaynor and Paul for talking to me.

Debra Kerr, Communications Officer

Portraits in Emotion will be at the Tetley, Leeds, 16 Jan to 1 March 2015

The exhibition will also be on show at Munro House Gallery, Leeds, 23 March to 11 April 2015

gaynor2

In a world of selfies the art of portraiture may seem a self-indulgent or even an archaic act but artist Paul Digby has taken this art form and added a twist with his new exhibition Portraits of Emotion that opens at the Tetley, Leeds, 16 Jan to 1 March 2015   http://thetetley.org.    The project is supported by paul.mason@leeds.gov.uk

I caught up with Paul to find out more about the art of portrait painting and also Gaynor, one of his models, who uses Osmondthorpe Day Centre, about why she wanted to pose and what it was like…….

About betterlivesleeds

Health, social and age-related care services working together to make Leeds the best city for health and wellbeing
This entry was posted in Achievement, Choice, Health and Wellbeing, Independence, Physical disability and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Portraits of Emotion

  1. Mick ward says:

    Great to have helped set this up

    see you at the openng!

    Mick

  2. DaddyPig says:

    Really interesting, thank you for covering this.

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