Exploring portraiture at UCL Art Museum – Guest blog by artist Nadine Mahoney
By Krisztina Lackoi, on 7 June 2012
Prior to graduation from the Slade in 2011 I participated in the ‘Moreover’ exhibition, organised jointly by the Slade and UCL Art Museum. Having previously used digital imagery as reference, the time spent with the prints brought a new dimension to my work; I shifted away from linear representation to a more embodied depiction of form.
The research focused on ‘anonymous, untitled’ prints, which inspired a body of work called ANON – a series of monotypes, each a unique original print, that explore identity within portraiture. Having gained so much from this period of study, in September 2011 I proposed to develop the project further. By expanding the search to include all forms of portraiture, the research would involve a wider exploration of the formal, conceptual and aesthetic qualities of the genre.
Normally, prints are identified through the catalogue system, through a search for a particular artists or keyword. However, rather than search through the database for ‘portrait’ as a title, the idea was to open every archive box searching for portraits.
This also allowed a closer insight into the both the collection and museum’s archive system. Each time a box was opened there was a sense of excitement, with prints several centuries apart in the same box. The experience of viewing the prints and drawings on easels has been a focal point of this experience.
The sense of size, scale and material are often lost in documentation and I gained so much from observing this first hand. Back in the studio scale has been a central theme with the new paintings. A body of work in response to the research has started to take shape; some are transcriptions of a specific print, whilst others are a wider response to the collection and modes of museum cataloguing.
Studio Wall (wigs galore) and Wig Drawings
Images courtesy of the artist and Hoxton Art Gallery.