Selfish Self Portrait of an Activist

 A few years ago, feeling very self conscious about self portraits, I started a project called The Selfish Portrait – where I asked my portrait subjects to make an image of me.

I was inspired by the Oscar Wilde quote: “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.”

A few years on and I have decided to at last tackle a real selfish portrait of my own.  It is a very strange experience to watch your own face appear on a canvas and look into your own two eyes over a period of weeks.  It is now finished and I couldn’t wait to get on with making it less selfish.  In some kind of hybrid between defacement (see my un-portraits) and activism I use the language of social media to turn a traditional painted portrait in oils into something, well, less selfish.

self portrait activist


4 thoughts on “Selfish Self Portrait of an Activist

  1. hi caroline – i like this self portrait and the ‘defacements’. i once sat for a portrait – a painter lived below me when i lived in primrose hill during the early nineties. he gave up after a couple of sittings mumbling that it wasn’t working. he – i don’t remember his name but he was in his mid 40’s and made a living by his painting – said i was ‘hard to capture’. i was disappointed. i’d never had an image of myself that i felt ‘captured me’ – by which i mean reflected my image of myself and was excited to think that oils might be the answer! i got over my disappointment by romantizing that the failure was probably due to my being so enigmatic / hard to fix..blah, blah. qualities that suited my self image at the time. I have of course committed a few ‘selfies’ since then…and always wonder about my motivations for taking them and then again for posting…still it is hard to look at yourself. i wonder if you can ever really see yourself – or rather only just see what the sitter sees. i suspect the latter. xx

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  2. re that last sentence – i mean see what the portrait maker sees of course – not the sitter 🙂

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    1. Looks like a good read, Sarah. Thanks for thinking of me. My head is full of my own writing at the moment, I dare not fill it with any one elses until I am done! Hope all well with you x


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