This portrait of Muriel Gray by Iain Clark is revealing in its composition and unusual in its execution.
As a prominent contemporary Scottish figure, many of us are no doubt familiar with Gray and her work and we inevitably think of our own associations with her as we view this portrait. With this is mind, Clark instead offers a glimpse at the ‘real’ Muriel Gray in comparison to the animated and vivacious public personality she projects. She appears solitary and serene, reflecting her admitted shyness and discontent with her appearance – what we portray is not always who we are.
Clark’s method of working is unusual and perhaps controversial - sitting somewhere between painting and photography. This concept of moving away from ‘traditional’ modes of representation is something the Portrait Gallery aims to nurture - engaging young Scottish artists, encouraging them to produce innovative work in a variety of new media, which develops a wider notion of portraiture for the twenty-first century.
Alongside a dedicated gallery, contemporary portraiture will become an integrated force throughout the gallery, encouraging viewers to discover how personal, social and national identities have shifted over time.
Watch Muriel Gray and Iain Clark discuss her portrait and the complex relationship between artist and sitter in the attached video.