Self Portrait

Rae Merrygold > Self Portrait

A Study of the Inner Self (2008)

Self Reflection

Self Reflection

I started with the convention of looking at myself in the mirror and decided that the face is a mask that hides who we really are.
We are all critical about how we look, few of us are completely happy with what we see, but what we see is not all that we are.
I began to investigate the concept of what a self portrait should actually be.

Portrait of Self: a visual image, sculpture, or written description of somebody, produced by that person.

Encarta Dictionary

I started to look at diaries I have kept for most of my life, reading them back felt strange, there were parts of them that were so familiar and other parts that seemed unrecognisable, almost alien to me. I decided to explore these experiences in light of the person I am today. The chronology that you get from a diary and conversely looking at your appearance in a mirror were unsatisfactory starting points, so I decided to embark on an exploration of self in written form by writing my past, present and future selves. I created three individual pieces of work based on the idea of ‘freefall’ writing, uncontrolled, unedited, random writing. It was an attempt to catch my thoughts, to write them down exactly as they were in my head at the time. Instead it became a cathartic venting of emotions, full of pain, anger and secrets. In this writing, the one rule I set myself would be that this would be the truth; I would not edit myself and would write everything that came to mind, no matter what.

Self Portrait Exhibition

Self Portrait Exhibition

Close up of Self Portrait

Close up of Self Portrait

The process was especially hard, not just the practicality of the strain of constant writing, but also the words I have used and the secrets I have told. I found myself worrying about which parts might be legible when the work was displayed. It made the work exciting, tantalising and yet exposing too. I felt almost naked as I put the work on display, all my barriers were down.

To begin with, the end result was incidental; the process of writing was the main concept. Once the artwork was displayed, I found myself more concerned with the fact that I didn’t know how much strangers and friends could now learn about me that I would rather they did not know. The experience of the audience viewing my work, enhanced the art work itself, it would not have been complete had it never been viewed. For the audience, the confessional aspect of the writing acted as a hook to draw their attention, the knowledge that it held unknown secrets was intriguing.