Our art students enjoyed a recent trip to the National Portrait Gallery. This is a popular trip that the students themselves often request as a gallery visit, because it gives them the chance to look at a wide range of artwork on a theme that is always popular in art lessons; pictures of celebrities and other famous people. The collection ranges in style from stiff and formal images of renaissance kings and queens through to the very latest cutting-edge styles representing modern media icons.
One work which captured students’ imagination was ‘Self’ by Mark Quinn, which is a cast of the artist’s head made from his own frozen blood. The work has to be constantly kept frozen, or it will dissolve back into liquid blood, so the complex and high-tech refrigeration unit it is displayed in is an integral part of the work, emphasising just how fragile and in need of support we humans are. Despite sounding like a gory shock-value artwork, the piece is stunningly beautiful when seen in real life. Students commented on how the deep reds of the frozen blood ‘glistened like crystal’ ‘were gorgeous, like red velvet’ or ‘seemed iridescent.’
Other popular images were Darcy Bussell by Allen Jones, a huge multi-coloured image of the dancer poised on points and Zaha Hadid, the architect, by Michael Craig Martin, a digital work displayed on a large screen and rendered in a cartoon style. This work constantly changed colour, slowly and imperceptibly fading from one dazzling colour-scheme to the next. Students also had free time to spend in Leicester Square and its surrounds where they were able to make sketches and take photographs of the activity and architecture in the capital.
Story by Mr Procter