Earlier this year I sold an old piece of work from my first exhibition from 13 years ago. I felt I couldn't sell the work without touching it up /re-painting parts of it first as, after over a decade of experience later, I felt the work in it's original state wasn't up to scratch.
This was the first time I'd ever worked on a 'finished' piece before and it was really eye opening for me. It made me realise that there's still potential in work even years after it's completion. With this in mind I decided to re-visit the remaining paintings series from my first exhibition Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
I've been working on ideas to update the paintings to reflect the sitters as they are now. I want to find out who these people have become, what has changed for them, what life for them is like in 2016 and I'm really interested in their perspectives as older more experienced women.
Two of the remaining originals from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes from 2003
I want to do this by conducting a series of interviews and meet ups with the models to gather info which will then inspire the new work. I plan to update their Gentlemen Prefer Blondes portraits by working into them; cutting them out, embroidering them, painting and collaging onto them to basically create a more complete and layered image which represents the person they are and the journey they have made in the last decade.
I'm really inspired by work of other artists who use various mediums in image making such as Niagara and Heiner Meyer.
Niagara: Clair de Lune
Heiner Meyer: Audrey Hepburn Through The Looking Glass
I love the way these artists use layering techniques with various images and text to create a unique piece. I think this will be a great direction to go in with the re-vamped pieces as I learn more about my subjects in their own words.
The original series Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was inspired by my friends who modeled for me and my fascination with styling and artifice. It looked into the way these young women presented themselves to the world and how popular culture in turn inspired them. Each painting contained a quote from a film, book or song chosen personally by the model to reflect something of herself. The title, taken from my favourite Marilyn Monroe film, played on the misconception of the ideal woman, as not one of the sitters was a blonde.
I was trying to define an idea of young women as bold and sassy and modern and to encapsulate the idea that women could define themselves on their own terms, yet I was doing this through the lens of popular culture. I feel now, that I was reproducing my own version of packaged personas based on my own relatively marginalised experience from that time.
By re-visiting the work and updating the individual pieces to reflect their individual sitters I think this time I'll be able to produce a much more rounded and personal representation.
I'm currently putting interviews together for each sitter and orgnaising times we can meet up and I'm looking forward to what I hope will be a liberating and insightful experience for everyone involved!