sittings are still going on

I’ve now portrayed another three disabled cultural figures in the lst two weeks. Its been such a busy time I’ve not got arround to telling you all about it, so here goes!

Sir Bert Massie made an interesting sitter and he had a lot of disability triumph stories to tell… he got the law changed so that wheelchair users can now use black cabs when you need to, though that’s easier said than don, as now we have to work on get thing the cab rivers to let us in the cabs!!!!! and he’s into history so he told us the history of the wheelchair….mmmmm…..I loved drawing him as he made a fascinating subject. the public joined us in Tate liverpool and also engaged on many levels with Sir Bert who enjoyed having his portrait made by other people.

Sir Bert Said this about his experience of having his portrait sitting.

“Sitting for Tanya is an experience.  There is no stress in the sitting and movement is allowed but having everything one says recorded at the same time was a novel experience.  Tanya probes away looking for nuggets of wisdom to enable her to get beneath the skin of the sitter.  Did she succeed?  Only she knows.

I was interested in the result.  Is that me?  Do I approve? On what basis should I judge? Best not to judge but let be.  Then the public arrived.  Some to talk and stay out of the cold.  Others to draw and what  interesting pictures resulted.  All the drawing were clearly me but all very different.  Maybe there are lots of me’s! What I did find surprising is that I would happily have bought some of the pictures because they presented me in a way I have not seen before.  Some drawings were basic but others displayed great skill and insight. Some stressed the wheelchair but most did not.  Maybe the disabled model is becoming just the model.  That’s the power of art.”

Sir Bert also said that if i wasn’t a disabled artist he wouldn’t have sat for his portrait …….it was a pleasure Sir Bert Thank you….i’ll see you in paint!

Deb Williams was my next sitter at Tate Modern. Deb is a producer and has her own theatre production company called Reality Productions. Deb was a talker and spoke in detail about her life’s works and her love of music and how music kept her sane ! we had a great rapor and this showed in my drawings. we opened the doors for the public to join us and boy did they come… felt like a wirlewind… was half term so we had lots of young families in with us drawing and engaging in conversation about disability culture…..with a little persuasion adults joined in the drawing fun….again we all felt like a ‘Real art exhibit’ …..I’m getting used to this.

My next sitting was Gary Robson Artistic Director of Fittings MultiMedia Arts.

Garry’s portrait sitting took place in Tate Liverpool and was another smashing great hit! Garry posed nude for his portrait and so this was my first disabled male nude. I asked Garry if there was such a thing as a disabled male or female nude. After talking about the position of the nude in art Garry answer that the nude is just the nude. what do you think?

I believe there is a disabled nude and that this is based upon identity as a disabled woman or man something that we rarely address as disabled people we don’t tend to gender ourselves when referring to disability identity. we refer to disabled people or person with a disability. Where does the woman man thing come in our identity.

Wealso talked about which one would make the audience feel more uncomfortable. A disabled Male nude or a disabled Female nude! what do you think.

Heres what Garry said about his portrait sitting.

“Coming from an era that invariably prefixes nude with “naughty” – thank you Mr Dury, Flanders and Swan and Carry On – i did indeed feel a little naughty and rather joyful in displaying my stick thin legs and accompanying bits to the whole wide world. Whether the world is ready for such a display is quite another matter….”

Again we had some great public drawers join us who engaged on many different levels, drawing and talking.

About Tanya Raabe

Tanya Raabe Visual Artist: an established Artist has recently toured Who’S WhO – portraits of established disabled artists nationally, including screening at National Portrait Gallery; exhibition tour, Light House, Wolverhampton; The Place, Telford; Oriel Wrexham, Shape, London. Recently as Artist Advisor to ACE and Cultural Olympiad on Artist taking the Lead commissioning panel. I'm Presently creating a new commision for Meadow Arts / National Trust Croft Castle, 'The Custodians'.
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