Sunday, 7 April 2013


Monotype installation.  Image courtesy of the artist and G V Art, London, 210 x 180cms.
            NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY Room 38A until 1st September 2013

The Portrait Anatomised
The title of one of the artist's earlier exhibitions was Reassembling the Self. Here she reminds us again of the wonder and fragility of  human identity..This is a portrait of Fiona. one of three people with epilepsy whose personal, medical and scientific narratives have been woven together by Susan Aldworth using experimental print and film.

 Susan Aldworth is both Artist in Residence at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University and Research Fellow in Print at London Metropolitan University. Central to her practice is working on location as an artist-in-residence in a medical or scientific setting. This current project is part of a commission for Guys' and St Thomas' Hospital by Westminster Bridge.
Aldworth's work does more than 'just' expand our notions of contemporary portraiture. She questions the relationship between evidence from our physicality and  the conscious mind.  A hospital is  a building with eyes and ears because somewhere there’s a file with my name on the outside, while inside are X rays, graphs and numbers. Waiting in the corridor outside the clinic, I feel I am a transparent doll with all my insides showing. A simple blood test means that sticky red liquid runs cheerfully into phial after phial, every cell a traitor which will tell secrets about my body to experts in a language I do not understand.

The artist invites science, philosophy, physiology and imagination to co operate so as to give us a unique glimpse of one person's experience. She challenges us to examine how these multiple perspectives work. What is the effect of this dislocated and sometimes beautiful imagery? How do such emotionally- charged snapshots correspond to, or challenge, the subject's perception of herself? 

I stand in front of the work and feel anew the energy in what someone had written thousands of years ago: I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139 verse 14)

Susan Aldworth will lead and participate in  events and lectures during the display’s run at the National Portrait Gallery. There is a lunchtime lecture -  The Portrait Anatomised -  on 18 April at 1.15pm. It's free, on a first come, first served basis.. 

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