Self Portrait, yours and mine (2013)

Self Portrait poster

Eileen Haring Woods Self Portrait

The opportunity to produce a new work for the Aldeburgh South Lookout Residency coincided with my 60th birthday and the strong urge to create a self portrait.

The Lookout prompts reflection. The Lookout residencies provide time and space.  Time for Truth or Consequences, space for exploring some truths and accepting the consequences.

Before I could have any notion of what form my self portrait might be, I began a short exploration into the genre of self portraiture. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery:

A self-portrait is an exploration of your face, body and personality.

A self-portrait is an historical record of the person that made it,
left behind for posterity.

A self-portrait can be a visual journal documenting something
that is happening or has happened in your life.

A self-portrait is a demonstration of style and skill to show
to prospective clients.

A self-portrait can be a way to experiment with pose and technique using a readily available model.

I looked beyond two dimensional images to consider alternative self portraits: sculpture, moving image, live art – particularly durational endurance work –  and inevitably, the contemporary global phenomena of ‘selfies’.  

My first thoughts and the first image I selected were about blood, as in blood links, as in family. As someone who chose to leave my homeland and all my blood relations 40 years ago, you could be forgiven for thinking these links were unimportant to me.

“Since choice as the decisive factor in self-presentation has to do with appearances, and since appearances has the double function of concealing some interior and revealing some “surface” – for instance of concealing fear and revealing courage- that is hiding the fear by showing courage – there is always the possibility that what appears may by disappearing turn out to be a mere semblance.”
                                                                                      Hannah Arendt,  The Life of the MInd.

The ‘aha’ moment of creating/discovering- (but that’s a whole other discussion) the concept and physical realisation of my self portrait brought a short sharp rush of endorphins.

The cerebellum (consisting of 100 billion neurons, which is more than the entirety of the rest of the brain) is also widely known to adaptively model all bodily movement for efficiency. The cerebellum’s adaptive models of working memory processing are then fed back to especially frontal lobe working memory control processes where creative and innovative thoughts arise. Apparently, creative insight or the “aha” experience is then triggered in the temporal lobe.   (wikipedia)

The ephemeral sculptural ‘trigger’ is my self portrait.

Now it’s your turn.  Ascend to the Lookout Tower, take time to consider how you would approach the challenge of a self portrait and if you find the trigger:

Make a mark on the paper – a line, an object, a part of you, text…..

Make a shape.

Take a selfie.

Keep the thought.