Paid preparation time for a freelancer


Paid preparation time for a freelancer like me is gold dust; hard fought for and like democracy, needs to be guarded diligently as it has a habit of eroding so over this week I’ve been living high on two days research time, and two to follow next week, without having to prefer for a specific project. 

I was simply asked to think about approaches and resources for aiding interpretation at the NPG.  Maybe someone is reading my blog because this was a tailor made research project with no discernable parameters for outcome and I loved it.

I spent most of monday and tuesday walking around the gallery just staring at the faces.  I saw how the curators have created abstract patterns with the portraits, faces are turned this way or that in rhythms that had nothing to do with the portraits themselves.

I saw how individual the different floors felt from the s curve of the hang on the top floor to the tunnel with rooms branching off on the 2nd.  I was blinded by bright white light in the contemporary galleries and looked at small paintings that were hung intimately between windows in the Victorian galleries opposite paintings that archaically jut out in diagonal from the walls.

The contextual information varied widely from historical to racy accounts to anecodatal information about the day that something was painted.  The NPG is a place I more naturally spend time looking at the contextual panels – there’s something not entirely art about the place and I’ll admit I was a snob when I saw a small Rubens and got excited. 

But all the curious differences seemed to fit the gallery and the strangeness of portraiture itself.  The gallery became more than a record of significant people and a document about the art of portraiture itself.  The busy activity of so many artists over the past 500 years trying to hold back time and memorialise the faces of the people least they be forgotten. 

I started thinking in the quantities of stone that were shaved off from detailed busts, the countless tubes of paints and vials of pigment piled high.  Not surprisingly my resources started to be about the stuff that you couldn’t see, I started matching what was happening at the time in other countries, in other areas of art, and also searching for other representations of these people.

I don’t know how this will impact on my practice and whether it ever will or needs to.  But this is research at its very best and answers the artist in me.

Next week: The final quest for Broadband – Surely it would be quicker to fashion a modem from some double sided sticky tape and tin foil?