The Long Look | The Making of a Portrait

Until Sun 27 Oct 2019

Open daily, 10am-5pm



"[Grant's] drawings are reminiscent of Giacometti whose images shimmer in an existential haze, present, but never fixed..."
- The Scotsman

The Long Look is a collaboration between the painter Audrey Grant and the photographer and printmaker Norman McBeath. It explores the art of portraiture beyond the conventional artist and sitter relationship, revealing what became a unique creative exchange between the two artists.

Audrey asked Norman to sit for a portrait in charcoal, said this would take 'weeks probably months' and asked him to photograph the drawing at the end of each sitting. She would then erase the drawing at the start of the next sitting and begin the portrait anew. Norman was intrigued by the way Audrey was working which led him to photograph aspects of this process such as Audrey's hands, the sitter's chair, the charcoal. He said 'I became fascinated by the sheer physicality of Audrey's drawing: the constant back and forth to the easel, the scrapes, rubs and wipes of the charcoal and cloth on the paper, the sharp snap of a new piece of black willow.' Audrey completed the portrait after two years of sittings and in tandem worked on another portrait of Norman and two long-durational portraits of the award-winning crime writer Val McDermid.  The four finished portraits, along with images of all the versions of the drawings that no longer exist, and Norman's photographs will be on display in this fascinating and revelatory exhibition.

Image: Norman McBeath, Audrey’s Hands (detail), 2017, digital photographic print © Norman McBeath.

Part of Edinburgh Art Festival.


Event highlights

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Gallery facilities

A full accessibility guide is available at www.accessibilityguides.org.

We provide a sensory map of the building to help visitors identify areas with changes in light, smells and noise. It locates seating areas and less crowded, quieter spaces. Printed copies are available from the front desk at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

  • Information desk
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Hearing loop
  • Accessible toilets
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Public toilets
  • Lockers (£1/£2)
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Buggy park
  • Seating throughout
  • Bike rack

Getting here

Located in the city centre on Queen Street, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is easy to access.

  • Open daily, 10am-5pm
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD

Related events

Related events


Family Art Tours (Ages 6+)


Sat 28 Sep 2019

11 - 11:45am



Visually Impaired Tour and Workshop: The Long Look | The Making of a Portrait


Wed 16 Oct 2019

10:15am - 3:30pm



Amplified Tour: The Long Look | The Making of a Portrait


Sun 20 Oct 2019

11am - 12 noon



Gallery Social: The Long Look | The Making of a Portrait (for anyone affected by dementia)


Fri 25 Oct 2019

10:30am - 12 noon


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