Strike a pose
Portraiture has become an empowering and surprisingly affordable art form. From sculpture to painting, start your local search here.
I have to confess it, I have a bit of ‘form’ when it comes to portraiture. Many years ago, when I had a bum that was worth scanning in the newspaper, it appeared in an Independent on Sunday feature I wrote on how portraiture was no longer an elite game (though it’s true a Russian princess painted me, so I guess that’s a leetle bit posh).
More recently a lovely chap called Peregrine Heathcote who works up in the Chinnor Hills in Oxfordshire and sells his paintings across the world to the rich and famous, did a lovely line drawing that was very kind to my double chin.
This means there’s zero need for any more artistic renderings of me. Anywhere. Ever. However, I’m seriously umming and ahhing about commissioning something of my children, since the last photos on the wall are nearly seven years old – the 15 year old in particular is unrecognisable.
Luckily, this is the time to do it. Portraiture and the nature of ‘posterity’ have shifted massively in recent years; Instagram, selfie-culture in general, a wave of wellbeing and celebration of individuality and spirit has created a boom in portraiture that feels honest, and – finally – affordable!. If you’re looking for a way to immortalise a moment, here are some of the best ways to do it in Bucks & Oxon.
Elliott and Powell, Oxfordshire
I am a massive fan of this team – their photo portraits feel more like still lives than photos, moments caught that hang on the wall as heirlooms and works of art. Oliver Elliott’s background is as a fine art black and white printer, with his work included in commissions for MTV, Sony Ericsson, Phillips, Ferrari, Conde Nast and The Sunday Times. He has exhibited at The Guggenheim NY, the V&A and the National Portrait Gallery – not too shabby! Keri Powell has built a career around photography, firstly commissioning famous photographers, before moving into art buying at ad agencies and finally to Amsterdam to open her own Photography Agency where she represented four hand-picked photographers including Oliver Elliott. They now work together to produce these powerful portraits. Ideal for significant birthday milestones, capturing a quirky moment or for family moments. firstname.lastname@example.org, 07836642874, elliottandpowell.com
Craig Mooney portraits, Great Missenden
The expressive, dreamlike paintings of Vermont-based Craig Mooney feel suspended in time. Available in Bucks & Oxon through the former Muddy Award winning gallery Carina Haslam Gallery in Great Missenden, there’s a strong feeling of abstract romanticism in these figurative paintings. BTW, if you’re in London next week (7 – 11 March) go check out more of Carina Haslam’s artists, including Mooney, at Battersea’s Affordable Art Fair.
Little Peach Portraits, Buckinghamshire
High on my potential commission list to capture my kids in a modern, graphic way – aren’t they cool? A great alternative to a photo, these digitally-produced silhouettes from Burnt Peach Designs have real impact, particularly as they can come in whatever colour you need to complement your decor. Owner Pia used to work for Saatchi’s in London before moving to Buckinghamshire, and doesn’t it show.
Strong Sculptures, throughout Bucks & Oxon
An unusual and striking idea, this one. Coaching through Sculpting is a brand new service by life coach and artist Nicola Strong, a leadership and personal development coach since 1999. Nicola sculpts a bust of your face over a half day session and the process allows you to explore your image, notions of yourself and how others see you. No doubt the other great benefit is that it relaxes clients, the natural intimacy between artist and sitter making conversation and the life coaching more natural. You can keep the clay sculpture at the end of the process but you’re also welcome to pay for a more permanent memento in fibre glass, resin or bronze.
Usually I’m not a fan of ‘transformational’ photography (I find it often involves basques and bad make up) but Carola Moon is a most definite exception. This contemporary portrait photographer in Wallingford sprinkles some kind of magic on her sitters, making them look beautiful, confident and empowered. The befores and afters speak for themselves if you want to check out her site. These portraits would work equally well for personal or work-related transformations. Makeover portrait sessions plus printing costs £590.