Picture Me! Self-Portrait Project Begins At Montacute House

By Caroline Lewis | 28 June 2005
Shows a painting of Henry the Eighth in royal regalia.

Henry VIII, artist unknown. © National Portrait Gallery

This July, young people from Somerset are working on self-portraits at Montacute House, to be shown at the National Portrait Gallery in London from autumn, 2005.

As part of the National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Reaching Out, Drawing In’ programme, the group of 16 to 25-year-olds is taking part in workshops at the National Trust’s Elizabethan mansion, in which they look at portraiture from Tudor times to present-day magazine covers. The participants, who are from the Taunton area and involved with a Prince’s Trust course, will then produce their own photographic self-portraits.

“This is an amazing opportunity for these young people,” said Caroline Jeeves, Project Learning Officer at Montacute House, “to work with a fabulous collection of portraits and to create their own work for show on a national stage. It demonstrates how heritage can truly engage with younger generations and give them foundations which they can use in their lives.”

Shows a photo of the middle section of the front of Montacute House, a large Elizabethan building.

Montacute is an excellently preserved Elizabethan mansion and the perfect setting for the NPG's oldest artworks. © National Trust

The Long Gallery at Montacute House displays a prestigious and valuable collection of 60 of the earliest portraits held by the National Portrait Gallery. The Tudor and Stuart display includes the well-known Armada portrait of Elizabeth I, a selection of paintings of her courtiers, the easily recognised figure of Henry VIII and Catherine Parr (wife number six).

“Using the Tudor and Stuart portraits as inspiration, we will be encouraging the participants to analyse portraiture and define what portraits say about their subjects,” explained Caroline, “the period of history in which they lived and what messages the subjects of the portraits wanted us to take from their portraits.

“The young people will then work with their peers and professional photographers to reflect on the messages they wish to convey through their own photographic self-portraits.”

Shows a painting of Henry the Eighth in royal regalia.

Henry VIII, artist unknown. © National Portrait Gallery

Reaching Out, Drawing In aims to encourage young people to engage with portraiture, heritage and the arts and gives them the chance to develop their own artistic projects. Having the resulting works shown in a national gallery makes this a truly exciting project.

The portraits are going to form part of an exhibition entitled Look at Me, which will run from September 24 2005 to March 19 2006.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the NPG, said: “I am delighted that more young people will be exhibiting their self-portraits at the gallery. This collaboration extends further our partnership with the National Trust at Montacute.”

Montacute House is a regional partner of the National Portrait Gallery.

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